Non-parents are twice as likely to catch a cold after exposure to a virus than parents, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsbugh have discovered, and the results can’t be explained away by protective antibodies built up from being around children with colds, reports Sciencedaily.com
Just under 800 volunteers were given nose drops containing cold or flu viruses and the results showed the risk of developing a cold was 52% lower for parents.
What’s more, the protective effect of parenthood increased along with the number of children and wasn’t even dependent on whether parents were living with any of their children. There was no difference in the risk of colds for parents who were married versus unmarried.
Although the researchers admit there is no conclusive evidence as to what the protective factors might be, they do believe that the results suggest some kind of psychological or behavioural factors are involved.
Previous studies have shown a protective effect against colds of psychological factors such as lower stress or a positive attitude.
The researchers hope future studies will look at how parenthood could “get under the skin” and influence physical health.