Many parents are apprehensive about placing their child in daycare for fear that exposure to large numbers of other children will negatively impact their child’s health. Indeed, research has repeatedly shown that children who attend daycare, and particularly large group daycare facilities, experience more frequent infections than children who remain at home.
However, a recent study from the University of Montreal provides new insight that may put parents’ minds at ease. The results of this study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, suggest that although children who attend large daycare centers do experience more infections while in daycare, it may be keep them healthier later in life. Researchers tracked children’s health for eight years and compared the health of the children who did and did not attend daycare both in the period when they were attending daycare and through their first years of school. They found that children who attended large daycare facilities actually experienced fewer infections when they entered school when compared to children who had not attended daycare. These data suggest that experiencing infections in the first few years of life may provide a protective effect, strengthening a children’s immune systems and making them more resilient to infections upon entering school.
Dr. Lolita McDavid, Schubert Center Faculty Associate and a pediatrician at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, was recently featured on News Channel 5 WEWS in Cleveland. Dr. McDavid explains the results of the study and gives advice for parents on keeping their children healthy.