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Early daycare tied to school-age health


Children who start attending large child-care centres before age 2½ seem to develop more respiratory and ear infections at that age, but fewer of the illnesses when they reach elementary school, a Canadian study finds.

The study in Monday's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine looked at more than 1,200 Quebec families of children born in 1998.

Sylvana Côté of Sainte-Justine Hospital and the University of Montreal her colleagues asked mothers what type of care their children had:

A large child-care facility for up to 10 groups of eight to 12 children.
A small child-care facility where a caregiver watched three to eight children.
Unlike an earlier study that tracked cold infections in children just during the preschool years, Côté's team focused on how often the children had respiratory tract, ear and gastrointestinal infections up to age eight.

Compared with children cared for at home, those who attended large child-care centres before age 2½ had 1.61 times higher rates of respiratory tract infections and 1.62 times as many ear infections during the preschool period.

But during the elementary school years, those who attended large child-care centres showed 0.79 times fewer respiratory tract infections and 0.57 times fewer ear infections than children previously cared for at home, the researchers found, based on interviews with mothers who recalled infections that occurred up three months before the interview.


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