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Should You Worry About Daycare Germs?

Daycare

Daycare: a place of laughter and germs

As if parents of kids born prematurely don’t have enough to worry about during the first couple of years of their kids’ lives, a new study is adding one more thing to their already lengthy “Things to Fret About” list: Daycare germs may put their kids at greater risk of developing serious complications from chronic lung disease.

According to the new study, published in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics, kids with CLDP (chronic lung disease of prematurity — a condition resulting from premature birth in which infants develop respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing) who are in daycare are four times more likely to wind up in hospital emergency rooms, nearly three times more likely to have trouble breathing at least once a week, and twice as likely to need medication over a one year period than kids with CLDP who do not go to daycare.

The researchers contend that the exposure to germs in your average daycare center — generally far greater than what kids who stay home in their first years are exposed to and the respiratory infections that result may be to blame.  Their recommendation? (Brace yourself, working mothers.) No daycare for kids with CLDP until they are 2 years old, at which point their lungs are stronger and may be better able to withstand germ-induced respiratory illnesses.

“We think that the physicians and the nurse practitioners and whoever cares for these children after they leave the hospital should educate the families on the possible risk of daycare exposure [for] the preterm infant and child with lung disease, particularly during the first couple years of life,” study researcher Dr. Sharon McGrath-Morrow, a lung specialist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, told MyHealthNewsDaily, noting that such early respiratory illnesses may put these vulnerable children at risk for problems later in life, as well.

McGrath-Morrow also stressed that exposure to daycare germs did not present a problem for other premature infants or healthy children, noting, “Most healthy children tolerate respiratory infections and viruses without difficultly, and so daycare would not be considerate a problem for them.”

What do you think? Is daycare worth the risk for working parents? Or is all this germ talk enough to scare you away and inspire you to find an alternative?

Photo: Grant Barrett

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