December 20, 2019 (Weather.com)
According to new research, the flu virus one was exposed to as a child plays a key role in how one’s body will fight off the flu in adulthood.
This study was recently published in the journal, Plos Pathogens where flu data was pulled and analyzed from hospitals and private physicians.
Researchers honed in on two subtypes of the influenza virus, H3N2 and H1N1, each responsible for seasonal flu outbreaks over the last several decades.
Data showed that for children who had early exposure to H1N1 were less likely to face hospitalizations if infected by H1N1 later in adulthood. The same was seen with H3N2.
For example, if a child had his or her first bout of influenza in 1955, when the H1N1 virus was circulating, not the H3N2, and now as an adult is infected with H3N2, the virus circulating last flu season (2018-2019), he or she was much more likely to face hospitalization than if infected with the H1N1 virus, which was also circulating last year.
Researchers hope that these findings will help predict which age groups might get hit the hardest during future flu seasons and aid in targeted vaccinations. Of course, the main goal is to develop a universal flu vaccine.