Monday, August 20, 2012

Keeping Your Child Healthy this School Year

     It’s a happy time of year for many parents: back to school means back to a standard schedule. But rejoining twenty-some classmates can mean back to germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of children aged 5–17 years miss three or more school days in the school year because of illness or injury. Younger children, or those with compromised immune systems, are even more likely to be on the receiving end of germs. 

     John Reed, MD, pediatrician and internist at Smithsburg Family Medical Center, offers these practical tips on how to keep your child healthy this school year.

  • Get a flu shot. The vaccine takes about two weeks to kick in, and flu season starts in October, so plan accordingly. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. 
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing and coughing—and throw the tissue away immediately. 
  • Teach your child not to touch his nose, mouth and eyes. “It’s the super highway for a virus to get into your system,” says Dr. Reed. 
  • Keep your child home if she has a fever. Airborne germs travel easily so avoid public places and crowds when anyone in your family is sick. 
  • If possible, separate siblings when they are ill. “It doesn’t have to be isolation, but limit the exposure,” cautions Dr. Reed. 
  • Stay up-to-date on vaccinations and well-child visits. 
  • Offer nutritious meals, exercise, and plenty of sleep. Picky eaters especially should take a daily multivitamin. 
  • Know school policies and reinforce them (i.e. no sharing food at the lunch table). Sharing food and drink, says Dr. Reed, is one way to acquire strep throat. 
  • Notify the school if your child comes down with an infectious condition such as strep throat, chickenpox, scarlet fever, or whooping cough. Your school’s health room should notify parents of any potential health problems circulating in the school. 
  • At home, disinfect frequently touched services at least once a day (doorknobs, remote controls, refrigerator doors, toilet handles). 
  • Weather permitting, open the windows and rid your home of stale air. 
  • Play outdoors (parents too). Set the stage for physical activity, and at the same time, get a dose of vitamin D. Make sure to dress kids appropriately for the cooler weather. 
Good advice: When schools request bottles of hand sanitizers throughout the year, pony up. Dr. Reed says hand sanitizers are effective in schools because of time, technique, and availability. Students don’t spend the 20 seconds washing their hands, don’t lather and scrub, and many classrooms are not equipped with a sink. “If you are well, hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs,” reminds Dr. Reed. Go to for when and how to wash your hands.

By: Anne Gill

No comments:

Post a Comment