Kids and School – a “Germy” Combination

Now, your children are in school and the initial trauma is over —for you. This is great; Mommy or Daddy’s day out every day, meetings at Starbuck’s, play a round of tennis, make dinner and await the arrival of Mommy or Daddy. I’m sure things aren’t quite that way but you do have time to do things you did not have the time for before school, additionally you may very well still have a young one or two at home.

If your child is busy enjoying the challenges of his/her first encounter with a classroom setting, he/she is also busy adding to the petrie dish of viral and bacterial flora that decorate every nook and cranny of their little classroom. Not to worry parents, this petrie dish the classroom petrie dishis actually world wide; doorknobs, telephone handles, handshaking, etc. This is not meant to worry you more but to help put your mind at ease. If, in fact, the entire tangible world is covered with a thin layer of “slime”, there are relatively very few people getting ill because of that contact. As a matter of fact, contact with these organisms can result in a certain amount of immunity while not actually imparting visible disease. Tough concept to understand but it is the same with your school age children and whether you worry about it or not, this contact will surely take place.

Add to that the possibility that your school aged child may then carry home the very “germs” you are worried about exposing your younger child to and it’s enough to pack up your entire family and seek shelter in the closest sealed balloon- like chamber.

Things are not as bad as all that. The coexistence of man and bacteria, mostly in a benign synergistic manner, has been well documented over time: we are better off because they are around and in turn they are better off because of our presence. There are far more harmless microorganisms in our environment than those causing disease, as a matter of fact some are even helping us come up with new and effective medications and products.

Certain bacteria can be coaxed into producing human-helpful by-products much easier and in far greater quantities than we can produce with our highly sophisticated technology. Bacteria and viruses are much “smarter” than you and me; whenever we come up with a defense, they find a way to get around our barriers with intricate defenses. Hence, the development of resistances to antibiotics, etc.

Sure it is reasonable to take practical precautions to protect your children, but their exposures are not necessarily a bad thing and no matter what you do some contact will be inevitable. Once entering a school setting a child can be expected to have 6-8 significant, although usually mild illnesses, per year for the first year or two, but guess what, after that time the illnesses become fewer and fewer.

So relax, do what you can reasonably do, but realize you can’t ever keep your child completely germ free. Get your child completely up to date with the recommended immunizations and vaccines before school entrance and keep him or her that way always.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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