Parents less likely to develop cold and flu

A new study suggests that parents are more resistant to colds and flu than those without children.

Sheldon Cohen and a team from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, analyzed data from three cold and flu studies to determine that parents are 48 percent less likely to develop the infections when directly challenged, according to

During the studies, subjects allowed researchers to put either an influenza virus or a rhinovirus, which causes the typical cold, into their noses. The researchers then tracked which of the subjects fell ill.

Cohen and his team also found that the more children were in a family, the better protected the parents were against the illnesses. Furthermore, parents whose children had already left home were also better protected than the childless. They were less likely to fall ill by 27 percent.

The analysis found that antibody levels in all of the subjects were relatively equal. Parents with children at home were found to generally have better cardiovascular health, but are also more prone to anxiety and depression.

"On the other hand, parenthood could facilitate host resistance through increased exposure to pathogens resulting in acquired immunity or through the benefits of diverse social networks and support systems associated with school and extracurricular activities," Cohen wrote, reports.