Kids lower risk for pneumococcal disease

By • Published: July 20th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Kids equal germs. With their penchant for touching everything and everyone and not-so-stellar handwashing skills, children are like mass transit for bacteria. A bacterium hops on at Stop A, little Becky’s hand, and before you know it has reached Stop Z, your house.

Of course, if you have kids, you’re probably used to catching a cold every time a new bug hits the playground. But listen up, parents, a new study shows that living with children may actually lower your risk for a disease that kills thousands of people each year.

University of Pennsylvania researchers recently reported that people who live with children are less likely to develop bacteremic [back-ter-ee-mick] pneumococcal disease.

Need a translation? Pneumococcal disease is a major cause of illness in kids and adults and can manifest in lots of ways, either as pneumonia, meningitis or even an ear infection.

Until recently, children were considered prime carriers for pneumococcal disease. But in 2000, a vaccine was introduced that has drastically lowered the rate of infection in kids. Because more children are now protected against pneumococcal disease, they are less likely to bring it home to you.

According to the Pennsylvania researchers, the vaccine may have completely changed the way the bacteria spread. Now, instead of using children as their taxis, the bacteria are finding other ways to get across town. And because adults with children spend more time at home taking care of children, they may be less likely to come across these bacteria.

So whether you’re a little tyke or a big person, you may want to freshen up those handwashing skills. After all, keeping your hands clean is the best way to stop the Bacteria Express.