Becoming a parent 'rewires' the immune system

Having a child radically rewires both parents’ immune systems, a study has found. The resulting changes may mean parents are more likely to get ill at the same time, researchers suggest.

Each person’s immune system is normally very different for a good biological reason. It means that if a disease or bug comes along, it doesn’t wipe out everybody at the same time. But when a child is born, the exposure to the vast range of germs, bugs and biological signals to both parents makes enormous changes to both parents’ immune systems. Nasty diseases – such as gastroenteritis – had only a minor effect by comparison, as did medical interventions such as the flu virus. After gastroenteritis and the flu, the immune system ‘bounced back’ to its original state, the researchers found.

The finding by researchers at Cambridge’s Babraham Institute and the Belgian research institute VIB were made by studying the immune systems of 670 adults. From an assessment of the effects of a range of factors, including age, gender and obesity, they found the most potent factors that altered an individual's immune system was whether they had parented a child.

Source  - Daily Mail

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