February 27, 2006
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
Physician Offers Tips for Knowing When to Keep a Sick Child at Home
PISCATAWAY—Late winter is a prime sniffling, sneezing and sore throat season for children, and each morning countless parents end up asking themselves, "Is my child too sick to attend school?"
"This can be a difficult decision, especially when it involves younger children," said Dr. Jacqueline Kaari, vice-chair of Pediatrics at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. "And it's also a decision that parents often need to make very quickly. While most childhood illnesses are relatively mild, sending a sick child to school or daycare could worsen the child’s condition and risks the spread of illness to other children."
Dr. Kaari suggests following these guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the sponsors of this month's Kids Ear Nose and Throat Health Month (http://www.entnet.org/KidsENT/):
- When a child has a temperature higher than 100 degrees, keep him/her at home. A fever is a sign of a potentially contagious infection, even if the child feels fine. Schools often advise keeping the child at home until fever-free for 24 hours.
- When other children in a day care facility have a known contagious infection, such as chicken pox, strep throat or conjunctivitis, keep your child at home.
- Children taking antibiotics should be kept at home until they have taken the medicine for one or two days.
- Never send a child to school who has been vomiting or who has diarrhea.
Knowing how to spot the differences between a cold and the flu can also help with these stay-at-home decisions, Dr. Kaari said. A sudden, high fever accompanied by body aches indicates the flu. A slow onset of symptoms, a runny nose or a sore throat points to a cold.
Children with colds can attend school unless their symptoms will keep them from participating in normal classroom activities. Children with the flu should stay home, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.
To request an interview with Dr.Kaari, please contact Jerry Carey, University News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.