While your entire house seems struck down with virus after virus, a new study published in Psychosomatic Medicine claims that you are actually less likely to catch a cold than someone without children.
Whether it's all that exposure to germs boosting your immunity, who wants to look a gift horse in the mouth, right? Regardless of pre-existing immunity, parents were half as likely as non-parents to get sick, according to researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who exposed almost 800 lucky adult volunteers to nose drops containing rhinovirus and influenza viruses.
About a third of the volunteers went on to develop cold symptoms. Fewer parents got sick, even though they didn't show signs of pre-existing immunity to the viruses. Even parents with no children at home had significantly lower risk of catching a cold, while younger parents—between 18 to 23—didn't yet possess the added immunity of older parents.
Further research is needed, but one theory to explain the immunity of parents is an improved regulation of immune factors (cytokines) which exude protective effects against cold risk, much like lowered stress or a positive attitude.
Still, the results are nothing to sniff at, and we should bear this in mind the next time we enter cold season.