Ask The Doctor:
Children's Health During the School Year
"Is there anything I can do to keep my child healthy this school year?"
Young children in large groups tend to spread the viruses and bacteria that cause illness easily. For five days a week, 6 to 7 hours a day, they are sitting close to one another in the classroom, surrounded by other children, sharing classroom equipment, using community bathrooms, and eating (and sharing?) food with their friends. Add a little runny nose, cough and sneeze: well, it's a wonder they stay healthy at all. The best and easiest way to keep these germs from infecting your child is frequent hand washing with soap and water by the students. I know parents want to hear something more novel, but it's that simple. Just use any type of soap along with rubbing the hands with water for as long as it takes to hum you're A, B, C's. To get them in the habit of doing this at school they need to be doing it home, before and after eating and after using the toilet. Parents, like always with children, need to lead by example. So everybody needs to doing this at home. Here is a list additional habits to teach your children:
- Keep hand sanitizer (Germ-X) in their desk and backpack (for quick cleaning after using classroom equipment or while on the bus)
- Cover the mouth/nose when one sneezes or coughs
- Don't share water bottles, food, hats or coats
- Make sure they get 8-10 hours of sleep at night, 60 minutes of exercise daily and keep video screen time to less than 2 hours a day
- Get the flu vaccine in October
- Drink more water
- Keep them buckled up in the car...ALWAYS
For something trendy, but with sound scientific support to boost the immune system:
- Supplement your child's diet with 1000-2000IU of Vitamin D daily
- Give a daily probiotic. I recommend one stored "behind the counter" at the pharmacy. That is those which are store refrigerated keeping the cultures fresh and alive.