My mom didn't send me to day care as a child. Or any kind of group care. In fact, I...
My mom didn't send me to day care as a child. Or any kind of group care. In fact, I wasn't around large groups of children until I went to preschool at 3.5. Don't worry, I wasn't totally isolated! I had playmates, just in smaller environments, like home or the park. My mom was also great about keeping me away from germs. She even laughs about boiling my toys when they fell on the floor....her own floor! I doubt I was sick that often as a child, but I sure have been sick as an adult! I developed several autoimmune diseases, the first at age nine and the last at 25 (hopefully the very last!). I always joked that I didn't have enough exposure to germs as a kid and my body didn't know how to handle them as an adult. Now I catch every virus and infection going around. Honestly. I know my mom isn't responsible in any way for my autoimmune issues. Likely, there's something "wrong" with me and different triggers have caused the autoimmune diseases to develop, and as a result, I have a weak immune system. But is there something to the idea that kids either get sick often at a young age when they are babies/toddlers in group care OR when they are older? A new study about infection rates among kids in group child care, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, concludes the following:
Children contract infections around the time they initiate large structured group activities. Participation in large GCC before 21/2 years old, although associated with increased infections at that time, seems to protect against infections during the elementary school years. Physicians may reassure parents that infections during the first child care years do not lead to a higher overall burden of infections.
I actually believe that, but I also feel conflicted because I wouldn't be surprised to one day learn that certain viruses trigger autoimmune diseases. Just my own theories from my life experiences. My children were not in group day care before age two and a half because I've been home with them. However, my son spent 10 months in an orphanage and my daughter eight months, and I know for certain they spent a fair portion of that time sharing in the illnesses that inevitably spread when babies and children live in quarters that tight. I also took my son to the child care center at my gym for several months, but truth be told, I finally stopped because he was sick all the time...and I always caught whatever he managed to pick up in that short hour each day. At one point, he was sick for almost two months with no more than a few days in between viruses. If your kids are in day care, The Archive makes the following recommendations for keeping your kids healthy:
  • Make sure your child's vaccinations are up to date, including a yearly flu shot.
  • Stay on schedule with well-child visits to your pediatrician.
  • Teach your child to wash his or her hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • Choose your child care center carefully; spend some time there and get to know the center and the staff.
The fact of the matter is that many parents whose children are in day care don't have a choice to make. They have to go to work! However, I've known a few parents who have sent their kids to a group care setting for short periods of time when it's not absolutely necessary for several reasons. >>What do you think? If this study is accurate and children are either sick often when they are young or when they are older, which is better? Would that influence child care choices you make for your children?

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