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Study: Raising a Child Rewires Our Immune System

Study about immune system and kids
17 Feb 2016 – 08:10 AM EST

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We know that raising a child brings a lot of change to our lives. Stress, sleepless nights and a lot of emotions are a few of these. However, it also causes a great impact in our immune system, which is a good thing, science says.

A new study reveals that the effect on a person's immune system from raising a child with a partner is greater than the seasonal 'flu vaccine or travelers gastroenteritis’.

The research was made by scientist at VIB and KU Leuven in Belgium and the Babraham Institute in the UK, and it is the first time science studies how the immune systems of two unrelated individuals in a relationship react to the experience of raising a child together.

The study took more than three years, and during that period, the team of researchers monitored more than 600 participant's immune systems. They analyzed which factors (like obesity, depression, age, gender, anxiety) made the greatest impact on each person's immune system.

Their findings showed that one of the most significant factors that did change an individual’s immune system was the fact that they raised a child with a partner. The immune systems between co-parents showed a 50% reduction in variation.

Dr Adrian Liston, one of the researchers commented on the finding saying, “Since parenting is one of the most severe environmental challenges anyone willingly puts themselves through, it makes sense that it radically rewires the immune system; still, it was a surprise that having kids was a much more potent immune challenge than severe gastroenteritis."

Liston also added, “That's at least something for prospective parents to consider, the sleep deprivation, stress, chronic infections and all the other challenges of parenting does more to our body than just gives us grey hairs. I think that any parents of a nursery, or school-age child can appreciate the effect a child has on your immune system!”