Speaking to Lusa, João Rufo, a researcher at ISPUP, said that the study, published in the scientific magazine Allergy, aimed to understand whether green spaces were “protective or aggravating factors” of the childhood development of respiratory diseases such as asthma and rhinitis allergic.

To this end, the team of researchers analysed the environment around the homes of 1,050 children in the city of Porto, based on the green spaces existing in the vicinity of the participants' homes.

In parallel with the assessment of exposure to green spaces, the team of researchers created a “species richness index” in the city of Porto, based on four types of animals: amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Based on this index, the researchers concluded that children who, at birth, were more exposed to many animal species in the vicinity of their homes, in the future were, at 7 years old, more likely to develop the disease, namely, “2, 35 times higher.”

“Firstly, we were not expecting these results, we thought it was the opposite, but also what made us think so were some studies that had been published in Germany and the Netherlands, in which they showed that exposure to animals during the first years of life was beneficial. But these studies focused on children who lived in more rural areas. The species we are talking about in urban areas are different, they are pigeons, rats”, underlined the researcher.

To Lusa, the researcher added that the team now intends to deepen the results obtained, namely, concerning the exposure to species richness, to later be able to assist local authorities in implementing “more targeted urban policies”.