Any parent with a child in day care will probably tell you it’s making their kid sick. It comes as no surprise to doctors.
“Realistically this is something again that generates an awful lot of visits,” says Dr. Martin Sherman, pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.
Pediatricians have a name for it: daycaritis.
“The average child between six months and five years of age gets about five to eight recognizable infections over the course of a year. If you put a child in a closed setting, most people define that as three or more children in a closed setting, you’re going to double that number. So you’re looking at 10 to 16 illnesses a year. And in the winter that’s about every two weeks. And you think every illness takes a week, two weeks, to get better - your child is about continuously ill,” says Dr. Sherman.
Florida statutes on day care health requirements states children with signs of communicable disease should stay home until symptoms are no longer present. It doesn’t cover the everyday illnesses, most likely to spread.
Several major pediatric associations believe it doesn’t make any difference. When it comes to the common cold or viruses, by the time children show symptoms, it’s already too late. Children generally spread germs for a few days before signs of colds or other bugs rear their heads.
“As far as most respiratory viruses, they are a lot less predictable. Some children are going to be contagious longer, some shorter. That’s how things spread so nicely through the day care,” says Dr. Sherman.
If you’re shopping for a day care, check its overall cleanliness and inspection records. Ask for its health policy. Most don’t allow children with a fever higher than 101, diarrhea or vomiting. While coughs, sneezes and sniffles have a way of getting in.
“Until the child builds up an immunity, the child is going to be sick a lot more often then the parent expected,” says Dr. Sherman.