What are the risks of contagious illness exposure?

Medline, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, reports that day care centers do pose some degree of an increased health risk for children, because of the exposure to other children who may be sick.

When your child is in a day care center, the greatest risk is catching viral upper respiratory infection (affecting the nose, throat, mouth, voice box) and the common cold, ear infections, and diarrhea. Some studies have tried to link asthma to day care. Other studies suggest that being exposed to all the germs in day care actually improves your child’s immune system.

Studies suggest that the average child gets 8 – 10 colds per year, lasting 10 – 14 days each, and occurring primarily in the winter months. So, if a child gets two colds from March to September and eight colds from September to March, each lasting two weeks, the child will be sick more than half of the winter.

Children in a day care environment are expected to have 3 – 10 episodes of otitis media annually. This is four times that of children staying at home.

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