A new study by the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development has found that children who have been sick in daycare are healthier once they get to school.
Dr. Sylvana Côté, a professor of social and preventive medicine at the University of Montreal, followed 1,238 Canadian children from 5 months old, in 1998, to 8 years, in 2006. The researchers compared the rate at which the children in large and small daycare centers got ear and respiratory tract infections with the illness rates of those who cared for at home. Differences between children who started day care at different ages were taken into account. And researchers found that, as noted in the December 10th New York Times:
Children who started going to large-group care centers before age 2 ½ had 61 percent more ear and respiratory infections with fever than those at home, but once they reached elementary school, they had 21 percent fewer respiratory infections and 43 percent fewer ear infections (with no difference in gastrointestinal infections).
The study was published in the latest issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The children in the study are just around my son Charlie‘s age. He was born in 1997 and is 13 1/2 years old now. And, from September of 1998 when he was 15 months old to just before his second birthday in May of 1999, Charlie was in a daycare center in St. Paul, Minneosta.
And yes, while in daycare, Charlie got four ear infections one right after the other, and I got to know all the names of the antibiotics: Amoxicillin, Zithromax……..
And today, especially in the past couple of years, Charlie rarely gets ear infections or respiratory infections. He has had maybe three ear infections, all while he was much younger. Charlie being on the moderate to severe end of the autism spectrum, and not being verbal especially about things like how he feels—he lets us know via his actions and behaviors mostly—-it is possible that he could have had minor infections of various sorts. But nothing major has certainly gone undetected.
As Professor Côté says in the New York Times:
the results [of the study] should be comforting to parents who worry about the health of children in day care. These children may be at an advantage during the school years, she said, because “when they are learning to read and write, they don’t miss many days of school.”
I’d also say the results should be comforting to parents and especially working mothers who have had heads shaken at them for placing a child in daycare.
Photo by Divik.