Monday, July 16, 2012
Ever had this dilemma? How do you feel about friends or family members bringing their sick and contagious children into your home? This topic, so widely discussed, has been on my mind for days now while I watch my youngest fight a cold and now while I fight my own. When is it okay to tell your loved ones to please avoid bringing their cold bugs into your home?
First of all, I want to say that I am not obsessed with keeping germs away from my children. When both of my sons were first born, yes, I was quite adamant about visitors washing their hands before they held my sons and I always sanitized my hands when we were out and about. However, now that my sons are older I purposely don't always wash my hands following a trip to the market where I pushed a grocery cart. I let my sons go to museums and playgrounds and sometimes forget to have them wash their hands before they consume food. Despite that this is undoubtedly difficult for me, I force myself to relax a little on the sanitation. I do this because I know that many germs are good for us. However, I am not okay with my kids playing with obvious sick children.
Just a few weeks ago I had a long awaited play date set up with a dear friend whose daughter is fighting leukemia. A few days beforehand a family member brought over his child who was coughing and had a constant runny nose. I knew right away that I would have to cancel my play date for fear I bring a virus to her home. And just like a virus's clockwork, my youngest and I both got a cold. Had I gone to my friend's house for a play date, who knows what could have happened. As of last week, her daughter's blood test results showed she has absolutely no working immune system at this time. None. She is quarantined at the moment.
While there is plenty of evidence supporting the importance of children being exposed to "bugs" from things like dirt and even fecal matter early on aid in the efficiency of their immune systems later in life, there is NOT evidence to support the exposure to viruses doing the same. In fact, children exposed to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or bronchitis are more likely to develop asthma later on in life. According to P.G. Hall and P.D. Sly, Between 50 and 90% of hospitalizations for bronchiolitis amongst children in the U.S. are directly attributable to RSV and substantial increases have been documented recently in admissions in North America, paralleling the spiralling increase which is occurring in asthma in pediatric and adult populations throughout the developed world. (Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2002, Vol. 196, no. 10, 1271-1275)
Influenza or the flu is also known to increase one's risk for asthma. So when do we draw the line between good germ and bad germ exposure? I would say when the germs can be spread by inhalation. So why is there such a stigma in our society when we politely request parents to leave their sick children at home? Not only would they be doing everyone else a favor, they would be allowing their children to rest and GET BETTER. I understand that many parents work and struggle with being able to remain home with their ailing babies. But there are still so many stay at home parents that continue to expose others of their sick children. I guess the best choice for me now is to avoid inviting those parents into our home altogether.
Posted by Bridget J at 2:44 PM