Being a parent helps protect against the common cold

The CBS News “HealthPop” blog reports that a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine suggests “that being a parent may actually boosts a person’s protection against the common cold.”

Investigators “examined 785 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55 and exposed them through nose drops to a virus that causes the common cold.” The investigators “found that when exposed to the virus, parents were 52 percent less likely to develop the common cold compared with non-parents.”

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3 Responses to Being a parent helps protect against the common cold

  1. Sheryl Oder says:

    Maybe that is because they have already caught those colds from their children while they were caring for them. grin.

  2. Dr. Walt says:


    The researchers thought of that and reported that this cold protection was NOT a factor of pre-existing immunity. They ruled this out by an examination of the parents’ levels of disease-fighting antibodies.

    So, if that’s the case, then what’s behind the effect?

    The researchers say, “Although parenthood was clearly protective, we were unable to identify an explanation for this association.”

    Study author Dr. Sheldon Cohen, professor of psychiatry at Carnegie Mellon University, said, “We expect that a psychological benefit of parenthood that we did not measure may have been responsible.”

    Medical News Today reports that being a parent may boost the body’s regulation of cytokines, immune factors that are triggered in response to an infection. Previous studies have shown a lack of stress or positive outlook in cold-fighting might trigger cytokine responses.

    Over all, it’s another (among many) pretty cool reason to be a parent.

    Dr. Walt

  3. Sheryl Oder says:

    Thank you for the explanation. I do remember feeling bad when my kids (now grown) were sick, but maybe that was more empathy than my getting all of their illnesses. It was a while ago, and my forgetter is pretty good.

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