Dr. Alan Greene answers the question, Is it normal that my baby keeps getting sick at day care?
Can you tell me if all day cares have the same issue with sickness? My 11-month-old has been sick since the day she started four months ago. Is this to be expected or should I take her out?
First, kids are born with some immunity from their mom, which fades as the months go by. At the same time, their own immunity is building. In between -- when babies are 6 to 12 months old -- they get more infections, on average, than at any other time. They also get more October through March. And on average, all kids in day care get more than their peers. So you've just finished the most vulnerable time of the year at the most vulnerable age in day care. Infections would be expected, regardless of their policies.
Kids in day care tend to get less asthma and other allergies and on average, kids get the same number of infections by age 6 whether they are in day care or not -- they just cluster differently.
Now, there are some measures that make a difference. Day cares that have an enforced policy of washing with instant hand sanitizers after diapering, before feeding, and before food preparation, and cleaning the mats at least twice a week have many fewer infections than other day cares.
Also, in an interesting study, kids in day care got either regular milk or acidophilus milk (milk with beneficial bacteria in it). No one knew which was which during the study. It turned out that those with the acidophilus got many fewer infections.
Kids in day care who stop their pacifiers often get fewer infections, as well. There was a study done of kids 9 months and older who used pacifiers and didn't mouth as many other things and they had about twice as many ear infections as their peers.
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