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What Puts You at Risk for the Common Cold?

Ever wonder what makes some people more at risk for colds than others? 

While everyone is at risk for getting a cold, some people are at even greater risk. That's because there is a variety of situations and circumstances that can put you and your loved ones at an increased risk for getting a viral or bacterial infection. Let's take a look at some of the people who are at higher risk for colds. Then after reading this article, take time to assess your own risk factors for catching a cold. Next, talk with your health care provider about how you can reduce these risks. By making a few simple changes in your lifestyle habits and washing your hands frequently throughout the day, you can reduce your risk of catching colds and other contagious bugs.

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A Newborn's Risk for Colds

Newborns are at high risk for colds or other infections for the first 4 to 6 weeks of life. That's because their immune system is functionally immature. Babies do get some immune protection from the antibodies they receive from the placenta before birth. They also get antibodies through the mother's breast milk if they are being breastfed after birth. But there are many germs they can't fight off.

It's important to help newborns build a strong immune system before they are exposed to cold viruses. A virus that causes a mild illness in an older child or an adult can cause a more serious illness in a newborn. Here are some ways to reduce the risk of colds for your newborn:

  • Breastfeed your newborn baby -- it helps boost your baby's immunity.
  • Sterilize bottles and nipples between uses by boiling them or running them through the dishwasher.
  • Discard unused formula or breast milk (if bottled), after each feeding -- baby's saliva has germs which multiply quickly.
  • Keep baby's formula or breast milk in the refrigerator until just before feeding time. Then warm the milk and feed it to the baby immediately, before bacteria have a chance to grow.
  • Wash your hands frequently before and after feeding your baby and before and after changing your baby's diaper.
  • Keep newborns away from anyone who is sick.
  • If possible, avoid crowds and using public transportation with newborns.


Young Kids' Risk of Colds

Young kids fight a host of ongoing viruses and bacteria as their immune systems continue to mature and strengthen. If your toddler or preschooler seems to have one cold after another, you are not alone. Most preschoolers get five to seven -- or more -- colds each year.

Also, many young kids have numerous ear infections, especially if they have siblings or are around other children in day care. While the struggling immune system produces antibodies to fight these new viruses and infections, the young child is more susceptible to illness.

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