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Health & Parenting

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Parenthood May Reduce the Risk of Catching a Cold

Study Finds Parents Were Half as Likely as Non-Parents to Get Sick When Exposed to Cold Viruses

Parenting and the Immune System continued...

From an evolutionary perspective, Sneed says, it makes sense that parents would get an immune boost.

"One of the goals of having children is not even just having them, but raising them so that they can be successful, and in order to do that, you yourself have to be healthy," Sneed tells WebMD.

Still, she admits, there's no easy explanation for the findings. Parents had more diverse social networks than people who didn't have children. Having good social support is something that's also been linked to health. But their results held, even after they accounted for that factor.

"We're thinking there might be some type of psychological benefits associated with parenthood that have implications [for health]," Sneed says.

There was one group of parents -- those between the ages of 18 and 24 -- who didn't see any added protection.

"Being a parent at a young age, there might actually be some negative psychological factors associated with being a parent at a young age. People who are young parents may not have as much social support, may not have the same social networks that older parents do. So any benefit you might see might be outweighed by these kinds of costs. That's kind of our theory about what might be happening."

The research is published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

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