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This morning, our pediatrician cited "a study" where novice and seasoned pediatricians were tested for immunity to common communicable diseases (cold virus, strep bacteria, etc). He said that the study indicated that novice pediatricians had the same or similar levels of immunity as "the general population," but that seasoned pediatricians were shown to be immune to almost everything.

He did not say who conducted the study (and I didn't press, since we were there with sick kids), but I was not able to find any information publicly available suggesting that such a study had been done or that there was a proven link between years of pediatric experience and level of immunity.

It's a fun and plausible story, but are seasoned pediatricians really immune to most common communicable diseases?

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    Anecdotally, I've heard a similar effect reported by daycare teachers: that new ones get sick, and also that they get sick (e.g. lose their voice) at the beginning of the school year. – ChrisW Jul 29 '11 at 2:53
  • Anecdotally, I can confirm this. – Lagerbaer Aug 10 '11 at 15:02
  • Seems unlikely to me, since you can't have immunity to all cold viruses in general; they're all different. – Ben Crowell Aug 11 '11 at 15:03
  • Nobody is immune to anything. Anything in specific quantities will do something to everyone. – jdstankosky Nov 1 '12 at 13:32
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For some conditions where immunity is boosted by regular exposure, then it would seem that paediatricians might well have a more robust immune response. In this small study of 11 paediatricians they showed a more robust response to zoster antigens than controls, and a larger response to CMV antigens. However, there was no difference for Adenovirus 5, or tetanus toxoid. [1] For seasonal flu where there is no previous exposure, there should be no biological reason for them to be more immune than anyone else.

[1] Influence of frequent infectious exposures on general and varicella-zoster virus-specific immune responses in pediatricians. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2014 Mar;21(3):417-26. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00818-13. Epub 2014 Jan 15.

  • Fixed the answer. – HappySpoon May 30 '14 at 20:20

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