What is more, the researchers found that raising a child together has a greater effect on your immune system than the seasonal 'flu vaccine or travellers' gastroenteritis.

The research took a detailed look at the immune systems of 670 people, ranging from two-86 years of age, to understand more about what drives variation in our immune systems between individuals.

From an assessment of the effects of a range of factors, including age, gender and obesity, one of the most potent factors that altered an individual's immune system was whether they co-parented a child.

Individuals who lived together and shared a child showed a 50 percent reduction in the variation between their two immune systems, compared with the diversity seen in the wider population, the study showed.

The findings appeared in the journal Nature Immunology.


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