Parents catch fewer colds than non-parents


Parents have a lower risk of catching a cold. This is true regardless of levels of antibodies and even regardless of whether or not the children live with the parent. There appears to be unknown psychological or behavioral differences which keep parents healthier.

Parents 50% less likely to catch the cold

The risk of contracting a cold, regardless of pre-existing immunity, after being exposed to cold viruses is 50% less in parents compared to non-parents. There appear to be unknown factors which favorably influence the health of parents making them less susceptible to illness.

The research team culled data from previous studies where healthy volunteers were administered nose drops containing virus. One-third developed clinical colds. The findings revealed that parents in the volunteer group developed a lower rate of colds than volunteers who weren’t parents.

It’s not because of antibodies

Research leader Rodlescia S. Sneed, MPH, and Sheldon Cohen, PhD of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University speculated that parents develop protective antibodies against specific viruses that cause colds. However, when antibodies to the study viruses were examined, they discovered that the parents tended to develop less colds irrespective of protective levels of antibodies.

Additionally, the protective effect for parents increased with the number of children they had. Oddly, if the children did not live with the parent, the parents’ risk of reduction in catching the virus was even higher at 73%.

“Our results, while provocative, have left room for future studies to pursue how various aspects of parenthood (eg, frequency of contact with children, quality of parent/child relationships) might be related to physical health, and how parenthood could ‘get under the skin’ to influence physical health,” concluded the article.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Psychosomatic Medicine


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