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Health Team

Daycare might help prevent childhood leukemia

Posted May 16, 2008

Those colds and coughs running through children at daycare might help give those kids some protection against childhood leukemia, according an analysis of studies relating to the disease.

Young children who attended daycare had a 30 percent lower risk of developing leukemia, according to the study headed up by Dr. Patricia Buffler, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Send your children to daycare. Let them eat dirt, let them have lots of early infection," said Dr. Adrienne Morgan, with the Children with Leukemia charity. "It's good for them."

Researchers said the study bolsters this theory: Unlike stay-at-home children, those in daycare are exposed to plenty of colds and other illnesses. Those "pathogens, germs, viruses, bacteria" ensure that children's immune systems are challenged at an early age, said Dr. Kenneth Gottesman, with St. Luke's-Roosevelt in New York.

That challenge might, in turn, help the body produce antibodies that protect against childhood leukemia. The disease usually strikes between the ages of two and five.

Doctors caution that since leukemia only affects a small percentage of children, parents should not purposely expose their children to illness.

However, going to daycare or regularly hanging out at the playground should provide that extra level of protection.

"I think these exposures are part of growing up, and in general, they're minor, mild illnesses," Gottesman said.

Click here for more information on the link between daycare and childhood leukemia.

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  • jgirl5830 May 21, 2008

    Jetstream, thats great that you had a good experience with daycare, but everything you mentioned that was positive about it can be achieved at home. My daughter was never put in daycare and she was always a healthy baby and toddler and I'm glad she didnt have to go through any terrible sicknesses that young, she never had trouble socially, or academically, she is in AG classes now, and lastly I think this article is ridiculous, I think if you have absolutley no other choice that is the only reason a child should ever be in daycare, they should be with a parent until pre school, thats the best thing for them.

  • colliedave May 20, 2008

    Trying to justify the Nanny State.

  • Amused May 19, 2008

    My child stayed home with me. He had interaction with other children through play-groups and when he started pre-school. he wasn't ever put in day care. He still had some illness but they were few and far between. Since he has been in school he rarely gets sick. Last year he achieved perfect attendance in 6th grade. He is on the high honor roll at school and has a great social life. He is a leader in scouts. So it's not like SAH kids
    have no benefits. But if you have to put them in daycare definitely do your research. I have heard some really scare stuff happening in daycare.

  • RUSH_2112 May 19, 2008

    I understand the point of the article. But there are some "bad" stuff kids can catch at daycare. Not all of it are colds and runny noses.

    Whooping cough and RSV were going around Wake/Johnston County daycares last year. That can put a child in the hospital. I have a 2 year old that we pulled out of a large daycare. She is now in a home daycare and exposed to only 2 other kids. The first year she was sick all the time. Now she has not been sick since Christmas.

    Let's see . . .the very first week of daycare, she developed a blood disorder (ITP) caused by a virus that put her in the hospital for 3 days. Her blood platelets were wiped out by the virus.

    She also caught something called mycoplasma bacterial pneumonia and developed a severe bulls-eye rash all over her body called emultiform. We ended up in the emergency room. I think we have been to the emergency room 4 or 5 times.

    The point is that it's not all colds and runny noses that kids catch at daycare.

  • jetstream May 19, 2008

    wcnc, those were excellent points you made. The article does not mention playgroups that some may be involved in. My sis-in-law stays home with her boys. She takes them to all kinds of things outside of the home. Playdates and such. And her kids are just as happy and socially adjusted as mine are. I don't see a difference between the way her kids act and mine.

    I just get tired of people out there blasting two income families for being selfish by letting other people raise our children. I don't see it as them raising my children. I see it as a partnership. I interact with the teachers and I make sure that the kids are getting what they need. I will randomly show up on lunch breaks to see what they are up to.

    To one of your points, if a parent is not interested in their child, then it won't work. Daycare or no daycare. Parental involvement is critical to happy, healthy and socially adjusted children in either case.

  • pontoonpike May 19, 2008

    If getting sick at daycare can help fight leukemia, my kid must be completely immune by now. We're going on month 5 for our 2 year old and its been one infection after another. And the little petri dish is taking down the entire family with her...the past month alone, the 2/3 of our family has been sick every day and currently someone in our family (either little one, either granmas or mom/dad) have been on antibiotic for over 2 months.

    Gotta love daycare though....

  • wcnc May 19, 2008

    jetstream- You are very fortunate to have found an excellent daycare.....Not everyone is able to do that, and many kids are given subpar care (and I know there are some who receive subpar care from their parents too!!).

    However, all of those things you mention that are the benefits of daycare are also available when a child stays home with a parent. Neither of my children went to daycare and neither were sick until they were 1 year old. Then, they probably got some form of sickness about once a year on average. THey are also very good students, socially adept, etc,etc.

    I think one thing this study failed to take into consideration is that a child who stays at home with a parent, doesn't "stay at home" all of the time. Many children participate in any or all of the following: playgroup, church, music or gym class, library storytime, etc.

  • jetstream May 19, 2008

    I agree with this. Both my kids attend(ed) daycare. It was a little rough when they were babies with the runny noses and stomach yuckies. But once they turned 18 months that went away and now they rarely get sick. If they do it is for one to two days and they can normally shake it without a doctors visit.

    There are many benefits to daycare. Both my kids had great teachers. My oldest is a straight-A student in school now. They interact extremely well in social environments, have lots of friends and one of my favorites, potty-trained by 2 1/2. Oh, no problems with bonding. My kids know who their parents are and we cherish our family time together.

    Daycare isn't for everyone. You need to do your research and find the best situation for you. Daycares are not all bad as some would suggest. For us has been a wonderful experience.