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Children's Health

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Diarrhea, Age 11 and Younger - Prevention

Do not allow your child to drink untreated or unfiltered water from a lake or stream or unpasteurized milk. Untreated water and unpasteurized milk are sources for viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, such as Giardia lamblia. Avoid having your child brush his or her teeth with untreated water. Even a small amount of untreated water can contain enough parasites, virus, and bacteria to cause diarrhea.

Diarrhea can spread because of poor hygiene.

  • Practice good hand-washing.
    • Be sure to wash your hands and your child's hands after each diaper change or trip to the bathroom.
    • Teach your child to wash his or her hands after using the bathroom and before every meal.
    • Do not place soiled diapers on surfaces that are used to prepare or serve food.
  • If your child attends school or day care, keep your child at home until your doctor has determined that his or her diarrhea can't be passed to others (is not infectious).

Food poisoning is a common cause of diarrhea in children and adults. Most cases of food poisoning at home may be prevented by taking a few precautions when preparing and storing food. Perishable foods, such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, and milk products, should be treated with extra care. Also, precautions should be taken if you are pregnant, you have an impaired immune system or a chronic illness, or you are preparing foods for other high-risk groups, such as young children or older people.

The following steps are recommended to prevent food poisoning:

Many counties in the United States have extension services listed in the phone book. These services can answer your questions about safe home canning and food preparation.

When you travel in wilderness areas or to other countries of the world, it is common to get traveler's diarrhea from food or water because the methods of food preparation are different.

Rotavirus vaccine (What is a PDF document?) helps protect babies and young children from getting a rotavirus infection, which can cause diarrhea and dehydration. Talk to your child's doctor about this vaccine for your child.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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