There may be a simple solution to respiratory infections, reports Dr Robert Arlt
Respiratory infections are a major cause of absenteeism in nurseries and schools, causing considerable inconvenience for parents and children.
But these infections may also increase the risk of more serious respiratory conditions. And even if they are most often of viral origin, they will still quite often lead to lead to antibiotic treatments, may they be fully justified or not, with their possible consequences for the immune system later in life.
There are only two really effective ways to avoid respiratory infections: vaccinations for a few of them and, for all of them, hand hygiene.
Studies prove that hand hygiene programs which educate children, parents and day care center workers can be effective in reducing the number of respiratory infections.
A recent study performed on 911 children between 0 and 3 years of age in 24 day care centers in Spain. The children were from various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. They were divided in three groups, one getting educated in hand-washing with water and soap, one in using hand sanitizer and one did not get any education at all. It appeared that the children educated in washing with water and soap had had significantly less respiratory infections and antibiotics than the uneducated after eight months of observation, but the children who had used hand sanitizer did even better.
Other studies may have to follow in other environments, but regular use of hand sanitizers at nurseries and schools could be highly recommendable.
Dr Robert Arlt Private Paediatrician at Roseneath Medical Practice in Richmond
Ref.: Effectiveness of a Hand Hygiene Program at Child Care Centers: A Cluster Randomized Trial Ernestina Azor-Martinez et al. Pediatrics 2018;142