Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A health bonus for parents

Despite - or perhaps because of - the fact that little kids seem to catch every bug that zooms through the neighborhood, daycare and elementary school, parents are remarkably resistant to the common cold, a new Carnegie Mellon University study says.

A health bonus for parents

Compared to adults without offspring, moms and dads were 52 percent less likely to cough, sneeze and develop congestion when exposed to a cold virus. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Compared to adults without offspring, moms and dads were 52 percent less likely to cough, sneeze and develop congestion when exposed to a cold virus. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that little kids seem to catch every bug that zooms through the neighborhood, daycare and elementary school, parents are remarkably resistant to the common cold, a new Carnegie Mellon University study says. But parental super-immunity is about more than a stronger immune system.

Compared to adults without offspring, moms and dads were 52 percent less likely to cough, sneeze and develop congestion when exposed to a cold virus. More kids meant higher resistance – whether they were living at home or not. Parents with one or two children were 48 percent less likely to get sick while parents with three or more children were 61 percent less likely to develop a cold. Parents with children living at home and those with kids away from home showed a decreased risk of catching a cold. Parents younger than 24, however, didn’t enjoy this health bonus.

The researchers factored out other possible reasons the 795 study volunteers, ages 18 to 55, might be more or less susceptible to catching a cold – including immunity to the viral strain, season, age, sex, race, marital status, body mass, employment status and education.

“We expect that a psychological benefit of parenthood that we did not measure may have been responsible,” noted researcher Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the university. “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. 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," Cohen said.

More coverage
 
More in Health: Rat may hold secret to longevity
 
More in Health: Treating irritable bowel

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAAAI, FACAAI Associate Professor of Medicine in division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis
Mario Cruz, M.D. St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Magee DeFelice, M.D. Division Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D., ABPP Director of Integrated Health Care for American Psychological Association
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
Latest Videos
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected