Tags: parent | cold | virus | risk

Parents Less Likely to Catch Colds

Friday, 06 July 2012 02:04 PM EDT

Can’t remember the last time you caught a cold? If you’re a parent, you might want to thank your kid.
A new Carnegie Mellon University has found parents are 52 percent less likely to develop a cold than non-parents when exposed to a common virus.
The study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, speculated psychological benefits from parenthood may somehow help boost the immune system and protect moms and dads from the common cold.
"Although parenthood was clearly protective, we were unable to identify an explanation for this association," said lead researcher Sheldon Cohen, with CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
"Because we controlled for immunity to the virus, we know that these differences did not occur just because the parents were more likely to have been exposed to the virus through their children. Moreover, parents and nonparents showed few psychological or biological differences, and those that did exist could not explain the benefit of parenthood. We expect that a psychological benefit of parenthood that we did not measure may have been responsible."
For the study, Cohen and colleagues at the University of Virginia Health Center and University of Pittsburgh exposed 795 healthy adults – ages 18 to 55 – to a virus that causes a common cold. Researchers also tracked the participants’ parenthood status, age, sex, race, ethnicity, marital status, body mass, employment and education.
They found parents with one or two children were 48 percent less likely to get sick than childless participants. What’s more, parents with three or more children were 61 percent less likely to develop a cold. Interestingly, parents with children not living at home with them also showed a decreased risk of catching a cold.
"We have had a long-term interest in how various social relationships influence health outcomes," said Cohen. "Parenthood was especially interesting to us because it has been proposed that it can have both positive and negative effects on health. For example, being a parent can be stressful but at the same time can be fulfilling, facilitate the development of a social network and provide purpose in life."
This research was funded, in part, by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

© HealthDay

Parents are far less likely to develop a cold than non-parents when exposed to a common virus.
Friday, 06 July 2012 02:04 PM
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