Children in Day Care Are Healthier in School

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.


Past Member 7 years ago

early on in motherhood...i learned that it can be more problematic when we overprotect our children....i never took my kids to expose them to diseases intentionally and i still don't believe that is best.....but when they were with other children....they did catch a few minor things...and all were controllable and treatable....

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p7 years ago

children in daycare are better off for buildung up their immunity systems.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

You are right Kay :-)

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush7 years ago

The comments on this article are a typical example, of why men are more powerful than women. THEY STICK TOGETHER.

It's truly, annoying to see stay-at-home moms and moms who work, trying to OUT-defend themselves. This isn't about 'right' or 'wrong'. It's about a situation that happens all over the world. Some women work, outside the home and some women don't.

Quite frankly, the title and undertones of the article, bring out the argumentative nature in people. Hey ladies, instead of debating which is the better circumstance for children, why not support each other and lend a hand.

Will women never learn, a lesson that men learned long ago? There is power in numbers, not in division.

Wobbley Picklet
Wobbley Picklet7 years ago

The title of this article is MISLEADING.
It implies that kids who went to daycare are healthier at school age.
What it actually reports is, that kids at day care got sick more often than those at home. And that those who had ear, nose and respiratory infections at day care got them less at school.

Whit-woo! All it says is that they build up their immunity for these particular infections at a different age.

And that is supposed to 'prove' that they are 'healthier' at school age?
Come on! It's just another attempt to justify farming little kids out so that mothers can be made to work for a pittance and so keep wages down.
Who profits? Those that don't have to pay decent wages that support a family.

Every Mother Is A Working Mother!

Nichol H.
Nic H7 years ago

I was never in daycare and NEVER, not once in my 41 yrs have ever had an ear infection... nor has my brother or sister.

I really think this has to do with a person's immunity and what we are fed/how we are raised in many (though possibly not all) instances.

Theresa C.
Theresa C7 years ago


Mike P.
Mike P7 years ago

Ruby W:
I used to think that too. Vaccines are supposed to work this way but in fact the data doesn't suggest that a person who is vaccinated is less likely to get the real infection. The data does show that people are very likely to get something like the real disease from the vaccine or complications from the other additives within it. What the data does show is that once given a vaccine one has to have it constantly updated because any immunity that is created doesn't last, unlike getting the real disease. A person will only ever be completely immune for life to the likes of Measles, Mumps chichen pox etc. if they get the real disease naturally rather than induced by a vaccine.
The vaccination industry is one of the biggest scams the drug industry have been pulling for many years and making loads of money from. The theory of inducing immunity from a safer version of the disease (ie a dead one - which by the way the vaccines quite often aren't) seems to make sense but it seems that the human body knows the difference and doesn't react to protect itself for life from a vaccine. This is the whole point of a vaccine. I think it is much better to get the common childhood diseases naturally at an earlier age one at a time and develop permanent immunity than be given all of them at the same time through a vaccine which doesn't actually work long term and more often than not doesn't work in the short term either often has side affect complications.

Mike P.
Mike P7 years ago

This is rather obvious really. What the article doesn't answer is whether children who go to day care have overall less infections than those who don't. The information is misleading. Also I would have thought that it was better for a child to get infections (which they need to build up their immune systems) when they are a bit older as their immune systems are more mature and able to deal effectively with the challenge. This is a misleading article. It seems to suggest that children who go to daycare are somehow healthier overall which the data doesn't actually suggest. It also says that it should be reassuring to people to know that getting ill from day care means not getting ill as much when later on in school because children don't miss their reading and writing lessons as much. Is this really the most important factor to consider in the upbringing of a child? What about considering that children who are breastfed until a minimum age of 2 (not necessarily practical if attending day school) have much better developed immune systems and if brought up using the methods of 'attachment parenting' are much more secure and motivated for the rest of their lives. Surely this would stand a person in good stead for the rest of their lives much better than if they missed a few reading and writing lessons when they were at school. The most important thing for a child is to help them to learn how to learn and they can do this better if they are secure with a high self esteem.

Ruby W.
Ruby W7 years ago

Isn't this common knowledge by now? Immune systems don't arrive fully formed, they are created over time by the various things we catch and become immune to. This is why vaccines work, hello! This is why vaccines are good and why it is good to expose children to other children, to animals, to dirt and grubbiness and all those things that helicopter parents try to keep them away from. Your precious snowflakes are going to be weak and bloom late if at all, I'm afraid. Now research is even saying that children's health and freedom from excessive allergies may depend on them getting worms when they are little. Gross, but I suspect in 20 years kids will be getting vermitherapy as well as vaccines.