Protective Effect of Childhood Infections

Several articles in the February 2001 issue of the British Medical Journal discuss the actual benefits that childhood colds and infections play on developing a normal and healthy immune system. According to the articles, having many older siblings; attending day care at an early age; growing up on a farm and in frequent contact with cattle, poultry, and cats; and having childhood measles and infections such as hepatitis A are all helpful in promoting normal immunological maturation and in preventing disease.

Additionally, repeated viral infections other than lower respiratory tract infections, early in life may reduce the risk of developing asthma up to school age. Another important conclusion of the article was that the risk of developing asthma by the age of 7 is reduced by about 50% percent in children with two or more reported episodes of common cold by the age of 1 year. These findings lead to the conclusion that children who fight a variety of normal childhood diseases develop strong and more potent immune systems.