Good news, cats don't cause mental health problems

However, for those anxious about owning a cat and developing schizophrenia, Dr. Solmi says you will not go insane.

Initially, the researchers did find a link between cat ownership at ages 4 and 10 and symptoms of psychosis at age 13, but this link went away once the researchers took into account other factors that could influence the results, such as the family's social class, the number of times the family moved before the child was 4 years old and the age of the child's parents. However, a new study has found out that this is not the case and that there is no connection between cats and mental illness in humans. Next, the team of researchers looked at whether the children were born into a household that had a cat and analyzed the level of interaction between the pregnant mother and Mittens before the children were born.

They looked for evidence that a common parasite carried by cats might affect the developing brain, making people susceptible to schizophrenia, psychosis and other symptoms of mental illness. When they were 13 years old and 18 years old, the children involved in the study underwent psychiatric evaluations.

In the new study, researchers tracked nearly 5000 people born in 1991 or 1992, who were followed until adulthood.

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"However, there is good evidence that T. gondii exposure during pregnancy can lead to serious birth defects and other health problems in children". In our study, we could not directly measure exposure to T. Gondii, so we recommend that pregnant women should continue to avoid handling soiled cat litter and other sources of T. Gondii infection, such as raw or undercooked meats, or unwashed fruit and vegetables. The parasite T. gondii is the real culprit.

House cats are recognized as the principal host of T. gondii, which infects numerous warm-blooded animals, including humans.

The lead author of the study and a University College London's Division of Psychiatry research associate, Francesca Solmi says that past research linking cat ownership to mental health issues had its limitations.

There was no clinical analysis to establish how many of those children were infected with the parasite, which is believed to infect about 40 per cent of people at some point in their lives, regardless of whether they own a cat.

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However, according to a 2012 study by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, between 30 and 50 per cent of the world's population is thought to be infected with the parasite - most of whom do not present with signs or symptoms.

Solmi says she is relieved at the results of her study. Now we can all pet in peace, or at least as much peace as our eventual cat rulers will allow.

The researchers suggest that previous studies that did show a link had relatively small sample sizes.

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