Infections may be good for children

Studies have proved that infections in children might be beneficial in developing their immune power

Children playingInfections can play an important role in enhancing the immunity of your child. As much as it may be difficult for parents to digest a statement like this, there is a lot of truth in it. Parents fret and fume, and get extremely harassed over the fact that their children are frequently falling sick. The sickness of a child throws their daily routine into a chaos. But this may actually be a blessing in disguise. Many previous studies have propagated that infections and allergies developed in childhood actually help to ward off serious adult problems, by stimulating the immune system. This is especially true about asthma and other allergic disorders. Doctors abroad nowadays actively encourage parents to see that their children play in the mud and get dirty. Children who attend play school and nurseries, which allow them to play in the outdoors, get plenty of infections, especially related to the respiratory system and infections of the skin. Studies have found that later in life, these kids were better off than those who never attended play schools.

A recent study, by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, found that children who attended nursery and pre-school had a significantly lower incidence of a type of cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, as young adults. They found that the risk of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma among young adults, who attended nursery school, day care or pre-school, was much lower than those who did not. One possible explanation given by the authors was that increased contact with other children lowers the risk of childhood allergy, and enhances immunity.

Parents nowadays are creating more and more sterile environments for their children to grow up in. Also, the amount of time a child spends playing outdoors has gone down, thanks to a combination of increased pressures from school, computer and television.

Parents would do well to encourage their children to play outdoors.

P V Vaidyanathan
Dr P V Vaidyanathan, MD, DCH, is a Mumbai-based paediatrician in private practice, hobbyist writer, and author of a book on childhood stress management.