By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Why do some people seem to fend off the flu better than others? A new study finds the type of flu you got as a child may help protect you against that same type as an adult.

Researchers from UCLA and the University of Arizona looked at data from hospitals and doctors’ offices and found that people first exposed to a less severe strain of flu, called H1N1, during childhood, were less likely to be hospitalized if they encountered the same strain later in life.

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The same was true for those exposed to the more severe H3N2 strain early on. They were less likely to get really sick from that same strain later in life.

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And while exposure to one strain did provide some protection against the other, it wasn’t nearly as robust.

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They hope this information will help predict which age groups might be severely affected during future flu seasons and help determine which people would receive certain vaccines that are only available in limited quantities.

Dr. Mallika Marshall