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Parenthood Protects Against Cold, Study

Parenthood Protects Against Cold, Study

(epharmanews) – Due to “psychological or behavioral differences between parents and nonparents”, parents have a reduced risk of catching cold, according to a new study published recently in Psychosomatic Medicine.

The result showed a reduced rate of colds, after exposure to cold viruses, by nearly 50 percent among parents in most age groups, except those aged 18 to 23 for whom the risk of colds was no different than for nonparents.

The research, led by Rodlescia S. Sneed, MPH, and Sheldon Cohen, PhD of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, suggests that several other unidentified factors related to being a parent may make them less vulnerable to cold.

Researchers examined data from 759 volunteers in 3 earlier studies. Healthy volunteers were given nose drops containing rhinovirus or influenza viruses. Nearly one third of them developed clinical colds – typical symptoms of a cold plus confirmed infection with one of the study viruses. Parents were 52 percent less likely to develop colds, compared to non-parents.

However; the study does not propose any outcomes on what those protective factors might be. One suggestion is that being a parent enhances regulation of immune factors (cytokines) triggered in response to infection. Earlier studies have shown that cytokines responses explain the protective effects of psychological factors –such as lower stress or a positive attitude – against cold risk.

Immune system may also be one of the protective factors; parents are often exposed to the same viruses their children get infected with. The immune system creates new antibodies to resist more diseases. However, the lower risk of colds in parents could not be explained by pre-existing immunity, based on levels of antibodies to the study viruses. Parents were less likely to develop colds whether or not they had protective levels of antibodies.

The more children parents had, the stronger was the protective effect of parenthood was. Even when parents did not live with their children, they were at reduced risk of colds and parents with no children at home had 73 percent reduction in risk.

The researchers highlight the importance of future research in explaining how parenthood can protect against cold viruses "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 researchers.

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Prepared by: Abdullatief Janat

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