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Day Care Centers Too Quick to Send Mildly Ill Kids Home
Date:4/19/2010

Colds, stomach bugs are already contagious long before symptoms appear, study authors say,,

MONDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Almost six out of 10 child-care centers in Wisconsin send home children who have minor illnesses -- even though professional guidelines suggest otherwise, a new study finds.

Guidelines developed jointly by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association (AAP/APHA) recommend that children with mild illnesses, even, in some cases, certain infectious illnesses like pink eye (conjunctivitis), can safely stay at their child-care center.

That's because, "by the time you start showing symptoms, the cat's already out of the bag," explained study author Dr. Andrew Hashikawa, an instructor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. If a child has a cold, pink eye, a stomach illness or even a fungal infection like ringworm, he or she has likely been contagious for at least several days before the symptoms became evident, Hashikawa said.

So, keeping a child home at that point won't help keep other children from getting sick, but it will place a burden a parent who has to miss work. Yet, 57 percent of day-care centers would choose to send home youngsters with just mild illnesses, the study found.

Results of the study are scheduled to be published in the May issue of Pediatrics, but will be released online on April 19.

More than two-thirds of American children who are under 5 are cared for at times by someone other than their parent, according to background information in the study. And, many of those children receive care at a child-care center.

The state of Wisconsin began endorsing the AAP/APHA guidelines more than 10 years ago, and the state routinely sends out educational materials to make child-care center directors aware of the guidelines.

Hashikawa and his colleagues posed five different scenarios to 305 chil
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