Kid’s best friend

Growing up with a dog could lower your risk of schizophrenia

Growing up with a canine could lower the risk of developing schizophrenia as an adult. That’s according to a recent study of more than 1,300 individuals conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the Sheppard Pratt Health System. The findings, published last month by PLOS ONE, showed that those who have a dog before turning 13 are significantly less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia later—as much as 25 percent. Dr. Robert Yolken, the study’s lead author, said in a Johns Hopkins Medicine news release that this possible protective effect could be attributed to “something in the canine microbiome that gets passed to humans and bolsters the immune system against or subdues a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.” Researchers reported mixed news for cat lovers: they found a slightly increased risk of developing both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for those first exposed to a cat between the ages of 9 and 12.