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Practices and Perceptions of Animal Contact and Associated Health Outcomes in Pregnant Women and New Mothers

By Hsin-Yi Weng, Kimberly Ankrom

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Category Journal Articles

Companion animals play an important role in our society. However, pregnant women and new mothers might have specific concerns about animal-associated health outcomes because of their altered immune function and posture as well as their newborn babies. The study was conducted to collect baseline data for developing an evidence-based intervention for pregnant women and new mothers to help them adopt certain behaviors to prevent adverse animal-associated health outcomes. A survey, using the Health Belief Model as the theoretical framework, was developed and administered to 326 women attending the Women, Infants, and Children programs in Illinois and Indiana in 2015. Prevalence of dog and cat ownership was estimated to be 39% (95% CI: 33–45%) and 26% (95% CI: 21–31%), respectively. Regardless of pet ownership, 74% of the respondents reported having some type of animal contact in the past month. Pregnancy or the birth of a child altered some animal contact practices among the study participants; particularly a discontinuation or decrease in cleaning cat litter boxes. Reports of diseases contracted from animals were low (4%) in this study. By contrast, animal-associated injuries were prevalent (42%), and the majority were caused by animals the respondents owned (56%). Overall, respondents indicated that they appreciated the benefits of a program addressing animal-associated health outcomes and did not indicate strong resistance to adopt certain behaviors. The majority recognized human health-care providers as a source of information about animal contact and associated health outcomes but less frequently identified veterinarians as a source for such information. In addition, although most of the respondents felt that health-care providers and veterinarians should initiate discussions about preventing animal-associated illness and injuries, only 41% among those who had visited doctors or prenatal care services reported that their health-care providers discussed these issues with them. The results indicate the importance of an intervention concerning animal contact and associated health outcomes for the target population and provide insights to the potential implications of program implementation.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 3
Issue 5
Publisher Frontiers
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2016.00005
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Hsin-Yi Weng; Kimberly Ankrom (2017), "Practices and Perceptions of Animal Contact and Associated Health Outcomes in Pregnant Women and New Mothers,"

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  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Animal roles
  5. Animals in culture
  6. Anthrozoology
  7. APEC countries
  8. Attitudes
  9. Behavioral research
  10. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  11. Belief
  12. Business
  13. Children
  14. Corn
  15. Countries
  16. Developed countries
  17. Diseases and injuries of animals
  18. Economics
  19. Health
  20. Health care
  21. Health services
  22. Human-animal interactions
  23. Humans
  24. Human sexual and reproductive health
  25. Hygiene
  26. Illinois
  27. Incidence
  28. Indiana
  29. Infants
  30. Infectious diseases
  31. Injuries
  32. Mammals
  33. Men
  34. models
  35. mothers
  36. neonates
  37. North America
  38. OECD countries
  39. open access
  40. Parasites
  41. Parasitology
  42. pathology
  43. Pet ownership
  44. Pets and companion animals
  45. Physical environment
  46. physicians
  47. pregnancy
  48. Primates
  49. Psychiatry and psychology
  50. Relationships
  51. Reproduction
  52. services
  53. Social psychology and social anthropology
  54. trauma
  55. United States of America
  56. vertebrates
  57. Veterinarians
  58. Veterinary sciences
  59. Wild animals
  60. Women
  61. Zoology
  62. Zoonoses
  1. open access