Confusion Over Sick Kids and Daycare Reported

New study shows parents, doctors, childcare workers don't understand guidelines

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Many parents, doctors and childcare providers don't understand which illnesses warrant keeping kids out of daycare, and which don't, a new study finds.

This lack of knowledge can have big consequences for families, because "inappropriate exclusions from childcare can have a significant economic impact," study lead author and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Kristen Copeland said in a prepared statement.

As reported in the November-December issue of the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics, the study of parents, pediatricians and childcare providers in the Baltimore area found that they were only 60 percent successful in identifying the U.S. guideline recommendations for 12 common childhood ailments.

This lack of awareness about the guidelines means that children may be excluded from daycare because they have what the guidelines regard as harmless conditions -- such as colds and allergic conjunctivitis -- but are allowed into daycare even though they have more serious conditions such as persistent diarrhea or uncontrolled coughing, the study authors noted.

"It's easy to see how exclusion can become a contentious issue between parents who may think childcare providers are inconsistent and unreasonable in their application of guidelines and those childcare providers who resent some parents' attempts to subvert the guidelines," Copeland said.

The guidelines were first published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association in 1992 and revised in 2002. The guidelines list 28 specific symptoms and diseases that warrant a child's temporary exclusion from daycare, as well as seven symptoms and diseases that do not warrant exclusion.

"If acted upon, misconceptions about these guidelines could lead to inappropriate exclusions and unnecessary work absences for parents," Copeland said. "On the other hand, some misconceptions, particularly among pediatricians, could lead to inappropriate inclusions that could delay medical evaluation and treatment and reduce the quality of childcare for other children due to the demands of an ill child."

More information

For more on guidelines, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, Nov. 22, 2005

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