If You Have Kids You Are More Likely To Get Sick More Often, Here’s Why

A study from the University of Utah found that kids bring germs into houses because of their still-developing immune systems, making adults sick more often than households with no children.

By Ryan Clancy | Published

getting sick days kids

If you are the parent of small children, getting sick is something that seems to happen on a weekly basis. You and your child are just recovering from illness. You are well enough to work, and he can go to nursery. You collect him in the evening, and he is sniffling with something new. Rinse and repeat for two to three years. Different versions of the flu, colds, and RSV seem to be plaguing families with young kids, but this never-ending cycle is entirely normal, and every family goes through it. 

The most frustrating part about this situation is that more than likely, your child will pick up a virus for which there is no medicine apart from paracetamol, and it could linger for up to a month before it clears. During this time, they have picked up a second virus before the first one clears, and it goes on and on. 

Little kids are little germ vessels, and scientists have the data to prove it. The data comes from the University of Utah, where scientists wanted to understand how respiratory viruses worked and were transmitted in a household. They asked 26 families to take nasal samples every week for a year, and the results were ground-breaking. 

Adults became sick more frequently when a child entered the house. They found out that families with two to four kids were sick for up to half the year. But families with six kids or over were ill for nearly 87% of the year. In contrast, households with no children were only sick 7% of the year.

The study also determined that the younger the child, the more germs they brought home. Some children under five were sick with a respiratory virus for over half the year. Under- fives were ill twice as often as their other siblings. And that’s just respiratory viruses. The study was not looking at other illnesses, but the result would be overwhelming if they were to be added in. 

Overall, this study proves that kids bring in most sickness into the household and that they are going to be sick a lot until their immune system builds up. Also, by isolating and keeping away from other children for extended periods during the pandemic, their immune systems were not inflicted with as many germs as they needed to be. So, a lot of kids’ immune systems are catching up. 

Also, the flu hit earlier than expected this year, so for children that had no previous exposure to it were hit the hardest. The scientists also note that a child’s first time encountering an illness will be the worst before they start building immunity to it. 

The good news is that the viral infections are starting to dwindle as hospital admissions for respiratory diseases were the lowest since September throughout all ages. But while hospital admissions are down, it is still winter, so colds and flu cases will still be making their rounds. But at least it is nice for families to know that this is entirely normal and it is a phase that will pass.