If you’re a parent (and presumably you are if you’re reading this section), then you know a thing or two about kids getting sick. It happens to all of them, and it can happen often. Especially to the little ones.
In a study published last month in the journal Pediatrics, researchers in the Netherlands followed a large group of children over the first six years of their lives, looking at how often doctors diagnosed acute gastroenteritis, the stomach bugs so familiar to parents; 1,344 out of the total 2,2 20 children studied attended day care during the first year of life. Being in day care as an infant increased a child’s risk of having acute gastroenteritis in the first year of life, but it also had a protective effect after that.
Interestingly, the protective effect lasted at least till age 6, which is as far as the study went; the children who were in day care by the age of 1 had more gastroenteritis earlier, but the non-day care children got sick more often as they got older. By age 6, children in the two groups averaged similar numbers of total episodes.
While this particular study focused on gastroenteritis, it was an offshoot of an earlier study that showed similar findings with regard to upper respiratory infections and ear infections. “Children who attended day care in the first year of life had more infections earlier and fewer later.”
More research is needed, but it is believed that the protective effects of having been exposed early to many of these germs could last into adulthood. So if you’re battling countless runny noses now, you (and your child) might have some relief in a few short years!