Newborns who sleep on animal fur in the first months of life aren't as likely to come down with asthma and allergies later in life, a new study suggests. Researchers aren't talking about snuggling up with a dog or cat—they mean, for example, a sheepskin rug or blanket, explains Time. The study is out of Germany, and such bedding was common there when the kids were born in the 1990s. Followup studies over the years found that those who slept on animal fur in their first three months of life had a 79% lower risk of developing asthma by the age of 6, and a 41% lower risk by the age of 10, reports Science World.
They were also less likely to development ailments such as hay fever. "Previous studies have suggested that microbes found in rural settings can protect from asthma," says one of the researchers via Eureka Alert. "An animal skin might also be a reservoir for various kinds of microbes, following similar mechanisms as has been observed in rural environments." Scientists still don't know what causes asthma—it's all about treating symptoms—and results like this can point the way toward future research, says Medical News Today. (One thing that is clear: It's an expensive ailment to have.)