• By Dana Sparks

When To Keep Your Children Home from School

January 10, 2013

Sick Child being examined

Children are bound to come down with the occasional sniffles, cold or other viral bugs, but with influenza, whooping cough and other illnesses affecting people across the country this winter, it's good to know exactly when you should keep your sick child home from school or day care. Your child's school or daycare policies are important, but Robert Key, M.D., family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Prairie du Chien,Wis. , suggests children should stay home when they experience:

  • Vomiting twice or more over a 24-hour period or being unable to tolerate normal food and drink, or both
  • A temperature of 101 or higher
  • Severe coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Repeated bouts of severe diarrhea for at least a day
  • Persistent abdominal pain (more than 2 hours)
  • Open sores on the mouth
  • A skin rash or red eye from an undetermined cause
  • Head lice or scabies
  • Other contagious conditions such as strep throat, chicken pox, impetigo, etc.

Dr. Key says, “Young children’s immune systems haven’t learned to recognize and resist most common viruses. That’s why, until they’re 8 or so, kids seem to bring home everything that’s making the rounds at school. Children can typically have six to 10 colds per year.” Also, the single most important thing your child can do to prevent illness is to wash his or her hands thoroughly and frequently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wash their hands with soap and warm water for 15 seconds – about as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

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