Keeping Your Child Healthy at Daycare and School
Dr. Carla Suarez is a pediatrician for Intermountain Healthcare gives tips to help keep kids healthy.
Salt Lake City, UT (PRUnderground) September 19th, 2022
With school in session and the Fall season approaching, babies and children will be exposed to more germs and may end up getting sick.
To address some of the most contagious diseases among babies and young children and how to reduce transmission and illness, is Carla Suarez, a pediatrician for Intermountain Healthcare.
If your baby goes to daycare, school, or to other places, they may interact with many children and may get sick at a younger age, said Dr. Suarez.
“If there is a bright note, it’s that this exposure helps babies and children build immunity toward future germs and illnesses,” says Dr. Suarez. “Some children may not be exposed to a lot of germs until they start attending pre-school or school. Either way, they will eventually be exposed to some common illnesses.”
Some of these common illnesses are RSV, pink eye, hand, stomach viruses, and hand, foot mouth disease.
Respiratory syncytial virus or RSV is a common and contagious virus that infects the respiratory tract among children under age two.
Symptoms are similar to a cold, but if it progresses, it can affect breathing and become serious, particularly in infants. When babies can’t breathe well, they may refuse to breastfeed or bottle-feed. They may get dehydrated and not produce wet diapers.
Call your pediatrician if you see these symptoms. Seek immediate medical attention if breathing is rapid or significantly impaired or lips or fingernails turn blue.
The official name for pink eye is “conjunctivitis” – which is when the membrane that lines the eyelid becomes inflamed. Symptoms in the eye are redness, itchiness, grittiness, discharge that forms a crust during the night and make it difficult for your baby to open their eye in the morning.
It’s very contagious and can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, an allergic reaction or in newborns by an incompletely opened tear duct.
If a young child is around someone who has pink eye, wash their hands often, don’t touch their eyes, don’t share towels or washcloths and use a clean towel and washcloth daily.
Treatment for pink eye involves symptom relief. Clean the eyelids with a clean, wet cloth. Applying a cold or warm compress. Contact your pediatrician and they may prescribe antibiotic eye drops, which are very effective.
Stomach viruses and diarrhea
Viral gastroenteritis is very common and very contagious. Babies can get it from sharing a cup or utensils with someone who has the virus or coming into contact with infected fecal matter, and then put their hand in their mouth, which can happen a lot in daycare settings.
Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, chills, achiness. It’s important to keep them home from daycare if they have these symptoms.
When a baby has frequent diarrhea and vomiting, it’s important to keep them clean and dry, change their soiled clothes and bedding. Wash fabrics in the hottest, longest cycle available. Dry them on high heat.
Treatment for gastroenteritis is to keep babies hydrated. Depending on your baby’s age and how much they’re vomiting, their pediatrician may recommend an oral electrolyte solution. If your baby is eating solid foods, ask their pediatrician whether they should eat their regular diet.
Hand Foot Mouth Disease
Symptoms include fever, sore throat, runny nose, and then a blister-like rash on the hands, feet or in the mouth. Children are contagious during the first week and remain contagious until the rash has disappeared.
Treatment for hand, foot mouth disease mostly involves treating the symptoms. The disease should end within 7-10 days. Age-appropriate doses of over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help with sore throat pain.
Do not give aspirin to babies or children as it can cause Reye’s Syndrome. Depending on the child’s age, sore throats may be eased with cold or frozen foods like fruit popsicles or yogurt. Children over three can benefit from over the counter sore throat sprays that contain pain reliever.
How to help prevent your child from getting sick
“The younger a baby is, the more you’ll want to avoid public areas during cold and flu season. Try to avoid being around people that are sick since infants’ immune systems are weaker than average and have yet to build up,” suggests Dr. Suarez.
It’s important to practice proper hand washing and using sanitizer for young children and caregivers before eating and after diaper changing, using the bathroom, touching pets, being in public spaces or if anyone has symptoms.
Changing tables and potty chairs, should be sanitized after each use at daycare. Toys and other items frequently touched like bathroom fixtures, drinking fountains, doorknobs or handles should be sanitized daily.
Keep your baby up to date on their immunizations
There are diseases that can be prevented with vaccines, such as flu, chicken pox, measles, whooping cough, etc. Be sure to talk to your doctor to keep your baby up to date on their immunizations especially prior to attending school or daycare.
For more information about viruses and where in Utah they are active, go to: https://intermountainhealthcare.org/health-information/germwatch/
About Intermountain Healthcare
Headquartered in Utah with locations in eight states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information and updates, click here