More than half the cases of diarrhea and colds
that afflict youngsters in daycare centers could be avoided through
better hygiene and more fresh air. That's the conclusion of a study
by Dr. Julio Soto and his colleagues at Montreal's St. Luc Hospital,
described in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Pediatrics.
Soto said that by applying stricter hygiene
in daycare centers, the number of colds was reduced by 54 % and
there was 72% drop in cases of diarrhea.
"We didn't look for overly sophisticated
methods," Soto said, adding that people often neglect basic
measures, such as washing their hands after going to the bathroom.
He said air quality in day care centers is important,
but there's a tendency to close all windows during winter and to
neglect the ventilation of rooms used by children. Respiratory aliments
- such as pharyngitis, rhinitis and sinusitis - are a particular
problem for kids under 3 who haven't built up a sufficient immune
On another level of infection, there are intestinal
diseases such as diarrhea. Finally, there are aliment like impetigo,
chicken pox, skin infections and warts. Very young children are
more likely to catch diseases if they go to daycare centers than
if they stay home. But by the age of 3, the risks for both are roughly
Contamination can occur through saliva, urine
or excrement that might come into contact with a toy or other object.
The study also found more cases of diarrhea when there are children
in diapers at daycare centers. Among those under 3, diarrhea hits
more boys than girls.
The best method of prevention is proper washing
of hands. For the study, a fluorescent lamp was used to check the
cleanliness of hands and the biggest improvement in hand-washing,
between 1989 and 1991, was noticed among children aged 4 or over.