Can getting cold give you a cold? A win for Grandma!

The Pediatric Insider

© 2015 Roy Benaroch, MD

Grandma says, “Bundle up or you’ll catch cold!”

Research just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explains why Grandma may have been right.

A team from Yale University looked at rhinovirus–the most common of the common cold viruses—and the immune response in mice. They found some solid science:

Mouse airway cells infected with mouse-adapted rhinovirus 1B exhibited a striking enrichment in expression of antiviral defense response genes at 37 °C relative to 33 °C, which correlated with significantly higher expression levels of type I and type III IFN genes and IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) at 37 °C.

In other words, when the nose is at the ordinary body temperature (37 C = 98.6 F), there is a more-robust immune response than when the nose is cold (33 C = 91.4 F). Cold temperatures allow the rhinovirus to replicate and spread more easily.

Does this mean you ought to put a muffler on your pet mouse this winter? Maybe so. And maybe your children, too!

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2 Comments on “Can getting cold give you a cold? A win for Grandma!”

  1. Angela Johnston Says:

    Thanks Dr. Roy, What about kids who already have a cough and/or cold? Should they be kept out of the cold? I love to take my twins outside as much as possible, as I know the fresh air is so good for them, but I never know how it affects them when they are sick. (We live in Ontario, Canada, so the winters can be cold. I’m thinking about minus 10C or so.) I have found very conflicting info online. Thank you, Angela


  2. Dr. Roy Says:

    Angela, I’d recommend seeing how the cold affects them. If they seem comfortable outside, that’s fine; if the cold seems to make them more miserable, stay inside.


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