There are countless benefits to having pets. Especially when you have young kids in the house, pets can be an endless source of entertainment and love. In fact, studies show that adults who were raised among pets are more sympathetic to their loved ones and peers because they are better at picking up silent cues. Since pets obviously don’t talk, kids that grow up with them are forced to take care of them in other ways. However, having pets around an infant can also be risky. Aside from the obvious risk of a cat or dog getting spooked and swatting or biting the innocent baby, they can be unsanitary. Birds in particular are dangerous around people with weak immune systems, because their feces have been shown to cause respiratory diseases.

Until your baby reaches age five, his or her immune system is too weak to fight diseases. Many of the things that adults can handle are extremely dangerous to babies. If a bird has a certain disease, it can easily be transferred to a baby, even if they don’t get close to the feces themselves. By being in the same room as the birdcage, they can inhale the fumes and contract diseases that could cause permanent respiratory distress.

If you’re expecting a baby, don’t get a bird. It’s not worth the risk, and you can get one in approximately five years when your child’s immune system is stronger. If you already have a pet bird when you have your baby, you don’t necessarily have to set your bird free. Instead, take him to the vet to make sure that it doesn’t have any diseases that could be passed on to your baby. If he does, you might need to lend him to a friend for a while until the immune system grows.

Pets are extremely beneficial in many ways, but you need to be smart about the pets you have and their health. Regular vet visits might be required so that you can be sure your baby won’t contract any respiratory illnesses from the pet bird. As long as you’re sure about your bird’s health, you can rest assured that your baby will be safe around it, even if there are feces in the cage. Of course, you should try to keep your baby as far away from any feces as possible, but you won’t have to set Polly free.

Source: Jessica Gorman et al: Pet Birds and Risks of Respiratory Disease in Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health Volume 33 Issue 2 pp. 167-172 April 2009

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