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The (Very Few) Upsides to Childhood Illnesses

It’s that time of year when nobody, especially children, seems to stay healthy.

Of course, nobody likes to be sick, and there’s no question that children should be vaccinated and spared scourges such as measles, whooping cough and diphtheria. For common diseases for which there are no vaccines, such as strep throat, parents should try to protect their children from exposure by keeping them away from infected individuals.

But are there some diseases that might actually be good for children to get? Viruses or bacteria that cause only mild infection in young people, but give them immunity from the same or more serious infections later in life?

The answer is yes, but the list is short. The common cold and ear infections may be among the not so bad — and possibly even good — illnesses.