Any parent can tell you that having children changes you forever. However, besides extrinsic alterations, like the house being messier or a lack of time for your hobbies, having children also drastically changes who we are intrinsically. One study, which was published in 2016 but seems even more important in this harsh flu season, found that having children severely alters parents' immune systems.
While some of the ways a child impacts our immune system may not surprise you (hello, runny noses and dirty hands), these alterations aren't all bad. The study found that though there are some negatives to how children affect our immune system, there are also some positive changes as well.
What we decide to do in our day, whether it's doing unhealthy things like eating sugar and smoking cigarettes, or making healthy choices like exercising and eating vegetables, all affects our immune system. Those kinds of choices are impacted by those we live with, especially when we have children. Mimicking a picky toddler's unhealthy diet or not making time for exercise will change your immune system, weakening it for possible illnesses. Conversely, maintaining a healthy environment in the home can strengthen everyone's immune systems, since people tend to do what their partners and children do.