THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Children who attend group child care (GCC) in their early preschool years have higher respiratory and ear infection rates in those years than children cared for at home, but by school age they have lower infection rates, according to a study in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Sylvana M. Côté, Ph.D., of the University of Montreal, and colleagues analyzed data on children in a representative sample of 1,238 families in the Canadian province of Quebec to evaluate the association between the age at which a child starts GCC and the frequency of respiratory tract, ear, and gastrointestinal tract infections during their first eight years of life.
In comparison with children cared for at home, those who started GCC in their early preschool years (before 2½ years of age) had higher rates of respiratory tract infection (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.61) and ear infection (IRR, 1.62) during that period. However, during the subsequent elementary school period (5 to 8 years of age) the respiratory and ear infection rates dropped for the GCC group (IRRs, 0.79 and 0.57, respectively).
"Children contract infections around the time they initiate large structured group activities. Participation in large GCC before 2½ years old, although associated with increased infections at that time, seems to protect against infections during the elementary school years. Physicians may reassure parents that infections during the first child care years do not lead to a higher overall burden of infections," the authors write.
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