Researchers find pets’
bacteria could help babies
WRITTEN BY DEBBY WALDMAN
Research has shown that owning a cat or dog is good for adults’ physical andmental health. A new Alberta study has found these pets are also good for babies,giving them a head start on fighting obesity and building a strong immune system.
Alberta Innovates post-doctoral scholar Hein Min Tun, PhD, and his University of
Alberta supervisor Anita Kozyrskyj,
PhD, found that babies whose
mothers were around pets during
pregnancy, and babies who were
around pets up to three months after
birth had two helpful gut bacteria.
Ruminoccus is linked to lower allergyrates in children. Oscillospira is linkedto reduced weight in adults andchildren. Dogs and cats also havethis bacteria.
Kozyrskyj and Tun are the firstscientists to name the bacteria andlink early pet exposure to healthydevelopment.
“It’s far too early to predict how
this finding will play out, but we wouldn’t rule out the concept of a 'dog in a pill’
as a preventive measure for allergies and obesity,” says Tun, a veterinarian and
microbiome epidemiologist. “Pets have always been our best friends, and it turns
out they are microbiome-friendly for babies, too.”
for healthy living
WRITTEN BY JANINE POERSCH
You can now get a prescription forhealthy living from your healthcareprovider. Your family doctor orhealthcare team can write you aprescription to get help and adviceto eat more fruits and vegetables,become more active and give uptobacco.
“The prescription helps you take
the first few steps toward making healthy changes,” says Carolyn Walker, a senior
advisor with the Cardiovascular Health & Stroke Strategic Clinical Network. The
goal is to help people lower their risk of developing a heart attack, stroke, diabetes,
kidney disease and poor blood flow, Walker says.
She adds that getting the prescription starts a conversation between you andyour healthcare provider about healthy living and what it means to you. For moreinformation, visit the website at prescriptiontogetactive.com.
BITES ILLUSTRATED BY KYLE METCALF Understanding
why our bodies
WRITTEN BY CAITLIN CRAWSHAW
Until the 1980s, doctors commonlyoperated on newborns and pre-terminfants without pain medication.
“It was well-accepted in the medicalcommunity that newborns couldn’t feelpain because their brains and nervoussystems were too immature,” saysNikita Burke, PhD, an Alberta Innovatespost-doctoral scholar at the Universityof Calgary.
Concerned parents brought an endto the practice, but not its effects.Research shows that such babies grewup to experience pain more keenly inlife.
Burke wonders if microglia, immunecells found in the spinal cord and brain,hold the key to understanding thisphenomenon: “These are long-livingcells. They get into the brain and spinalcord during early pregnancy and stayfor the rest of your life.” She explainsthat microglia seem to “remember”pain experienced in infancy and thenoverreact if the person has surgery laterin life.
Working in the lab of UCalgary’sTuan Trang, PhD, Burke is looking athow certain genes turn on microgliacells and how they might be targetedto prevent or reverse the long-termeffects of neonatal pain. Her work couldalso help better understand and treatchronic pain, which affects millions ofCanadians.