Children with Chronic Lung Disease: Any child who had serious respiratory problems as a newborn may be at increased risk for serious lung infections in the first 18 months or so after birth. Most often these infants are also prematurely born; however, some full-term infants with severe respiratory problems may also develop lung scarring. Any infant who required a ventilator for serious lung disease may also be at risk. Infants requiring supplemental oxygen for breathing are at particular risk. As these children grow and their lungs improve, their risk decreases. Again, it is important that you discuss this with your baby's doctor and follow his or her advice.
Children with Weak Immunity: Some children are born with an inability to fight infections normally. These problems vary in severity and type. Check with your child's physician to identify the best childcare option for you.
What You Can Do
Some cold and flu bugs are inevitable, but to help your child avoid serious illnesses, consider the following:
- Keep Immunizations Current: Immunizations protect your child against infection. Make certain that your child receives the recommended immunizations on time.
- Know When to Say No: Most childcare facilities have a set of guidelines describing when children are too sick to attend daycare. Ask your provider for a copy of their specific guidelines but also trust your own instincts. You know your child better than anyone else does. Sending a sick child to childcare puts the other children and childcare providers at risk so, whenever possible, keep your sick child at home.
- Sick Childcare Facilities: Some communities have special childcare centers for sick kids. These facilities allow children with moderate illness to receive the extra care they need outside of their own homes without exposing well children to illness. These facilities rarely make enough money to cover their expenses and are often subsidized by community agencies. Check with local agencies, children's clinics, and hospitals for providers in your area.
Most children can safely be in childcare facilities without jeopardizing their health. Childcare facilities that develop and adhere to good policies for infection control minimize the risk of infections and ensure the safety of your child. Crucial to this policy are the criteria for when a sick child cannot be in the childcare facility—a policy you should know.