National Children's Month

Friday, October 8, 2010

October is National Children’s Health Month. We all need to be concerned about the health and safety of our children, and we need to insure that they are protected. These safety steps can range from child-proofing our homes to securely placing children in car seats. In the same way, vaccines work to protect infants, children, and adults from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases. Even though the U.S. has record low cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, the germs that cause them still exist. Even diseases that have primarily been eliminated in this country, such as polio, are only a plane ride away. It is important to remember that infectious diseases can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines, and preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor's visits, hospitalizations, and death. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work. It's true that newborns are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, this immunity may last from only a month to about one year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.

So now that we’ve vaccinated them, what else can we do? Well, as early as possible teach children about washing their hands. Research shows that hand-washing is near the top of the list when it comes to preventing the spread of communicable diseases. Children are going to be exposed to germs; it’s part of growing up. Teaching them about hygiene and hand-washing however, will hopefully assist in not spreading those germs. The other piece of that is teaching them to cover their mouths when sneezing and\or coughing.

Caution your children about sharing their personal items, such as drinking glasses, hair brushes, combs, etc. Although it goes against our grain to teach our children NOT to share, in those situations it may reduce the spread of germs and head lice.

So, even though October is National Children’s Health Month, let’s keep our kids healthy the other 11 months of the year as well!

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