Natural Remedy For The Common Cold? Become A Parent
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
The perks of being a parent can be unclear at times. One perk could possibly be the body´s defenses against developing the common cold. According to a study from Carnegie Melon University, researchers recently discovered that parents could have a lower risk of catching a cold than their counterparts who do not have children.
The study was conducted by lead author Rodlescia S. Sneed and Sheldon Cohen of Pittsburgh´s Carnegie Melon University. Researchers wrote that this low risk for parents is based on unknown “psychological or behavioral differences between parents and non-parents.” They found that parents who are at risk to catch a common cold have a 50 percent less chance of contracting the flu than those who haven´t had children.
“Our results, while provocative, have left room for future studies to pursue how various aspects of parenthood (e.g., 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,” wrote the authors in the report.
The team of scientists looked at data from 795 adults who had participated in studies on stress and social factors associated to the common cold. In the study, the subjects were given nose drops that continued the rhinovirus or the influenza virus; these two viruses are known to have been a cause to the common cold. Later on, one-third of the participants development clinical colds. The researchers wanted to examine the participants to see if being a parent affected the risk of having developed the cold.
“We have had a long-term interest in how various social relationships influence health outcomes,” Cohen told the Daily Mail. “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.”
The results of the study showed that participants who were parents had a lower rate of developing the cold than those participants who were not parents. Researchers believe that this finding is plausible as the parents´ immune system has developed antibodies against certain viruses when their child contracts the cold.
According to the New York Daily News, the researchers also found that parents who had three or more children were protected more (61 percent less likely to get sick) than parents who had one to two children (48 percent less likely to develop a cold). The findings demonstrated that parents whose children didn´t live with them had a higher risk of contracting a cold. Overall, the project results showed that parents in most age groups had lower risk than those who were non-parents.
“We found parenthood predicted a decreased probability of colds among healthy individuals exposed to a cold virus,” commented the researchers in a Medical News Today article.
In trying to understand the project´s results, researchers believe that parents could possibly be more immune to developing the common cold due to the body´s improved regulation of immune factors that start as a result of an infection. These immune factors, otherwise known as cytokines, can help identify the defensive effects of psychological factors like low stress or a positive attitude against the possibility of having a cold. More research is needed to determine the exact reasons on why being a parent could create a different response for the body against cold viruses.
“Although parenthood was clearly protective, we were unable to identify an explanation for this association,” commented Cohen in a prepared statement. “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.”
The study was recently published in the July edition of Psychosomatic Medicine, which is the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.