Ugh! So our mothers were right when they told us we'd catch a cold if we didn't wear a coat. At least that's what a new study contends; that the body can more effectively fight off the common cold virus when it's warm, at about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Researchers looked at the rhinovirus, the bug most commonly to blame for colds, and how it survived in human cells kept at different temperatures. At warmer temps, the body's natural defense systems more easily killed off infected cells. This finding builds on earlier research by the same group, that as researcher Akiko Iwasaki explained, also found: "Temperature has profound effects on anti-viral defences that affect the outcome of cold infections."
It's bad news for us parents in the sense that we probably should have listened to our mothers when we were kids. But it's good news that this research, which is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has come out now that we are parents ourselves. Because at least we have science to back up our incessant nagging and worrying.
So here's the takeaway: Insisting that your child wears a coat and wraps up in a scarf during the winter months may help protect him against contracting a cold. And during warmer summer months, not pumping the A/C up to freezing status and having kids remove wet bathing suits promptly may help protect them. Of course, these measures won't necessarily prevent children from touching infected surfaces, or being coughed on, so staying warm isn't a magic bullet against the common cold.
We're still waiting on that! In the meantime, this research makes me question what else my mom may have been right about...
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.