Daycare May Have Long-Term Health Benefits
The study, led by Sylvana C?t? of Ste-Justine Hospital and the University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, studied 1,238 families with newborns in 1998. Researchers evaluated young children from large child care facilities (up to 10 groups of eight to 12 children), small home-based centers (three to eight children) and those cared for at home.
For eight years, researchers obtained information about how often the children suffered from respiratory tract, ear or gastrointestinal infections during preschool (from birth to 4?) and early elementary school (ages 5 to 8). The study found that, compared with children cared for at home, those who began attending large child care facilities before age 2? had higher rates of respiratory and ear infections during early preschool, the same risk of infection during late preschool and lower rates during early elementary school.
No differences in infection risk were found between children who started child care in small, home-based centers and those cared for at home.
"This study provides reassuring evidence for parents that their choices regarding child care (group size and age at enrollment) should not have a major effect on the health of their children from a long-term (eight-year) perspective, at least regarding respiratory tract infections with fever, gastrointestinal tract infections and ear infections," the researchers conclude.
"Children who initiate large-group child care early (before age 2? years) may even gain protection against infections during the elementary school years, when absenteeism carries more important consequences for school adaptation and performance," the researchers added. They said doctors can be confident reassuring parents who have young children in large group child care centers that infections they are experiencing now are temporary and will likely provide them greater immunity later.
The findings were published in the December 2010 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Related Topics: Child Care