Do childhood illnesses and infections haunt us years later, in our adult life? Researchers say they don’t. According to a new study, the infections we are exposed to as children do not have a lasting impact on our survival or reproduction.
The researchers found no support for the idea that exposure to infections in childhood can result in higher mortality risk during adulthood.
Previous research suggested that diseases which used to be common in childhood, such as smallpox, measles and whooping cough caused long-lasting inflammation, which then increased the risk of heart disease in adulthood and resulted in an early death.
With the introduction of vaccines and eradication of diseases, children now-a-days rarely get these illnesses anymore and do not experience long-lasting inflammation and as a result are living longer, suggested the study.
“Our analyses are significant because they show that early-life disease exposure was not linked to increased risk of death in later life. It was also not linked to risk of death specifically from heart disease, stroke and cancer and was not related to age at first birth, number of children born, or child survival rate in either men or women,” said Adam Hayward, researcher at University of Stirling in a statement.
Researchers surveyed 7,283 men and women who were born between 1751 and 1850 and analysed how an individual’s early disease exposure was linked to their survival, deaths from cardiovascular disease, and their fertility.
The researchers found no support for the idea that exposure to infections in early life can have long-lasting consequences for later-life survival and reproduction.
Instead, it appears more likely that improved conditions during adulthood, such as healthcare and diet are responsible for recent increases in adult lifespan, suggested the study.
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