Day Care Helps Boost Kids' Immunity

From the WebMD Archives

Feb. 20, 2002 -- Kids who attend day care are plagued by colds, but it seems to boost their immunity. Once they get to elementary school, they have far fewer sniffles and sneezes, according to a new study.

The study involved more than 1,200 children enrolled in small and large day-care centers throughout Tucson, Ariz. Researchers found that kids who attended large day-care centers -- those that enroll more than five children -- had more colds during the first three years of life. However, they had less frequent colds during the school years until age 13.

"Several studies have shown that while babies and young children are attending day care, they experience more respiratory illnesses than those cared for at home," says lead author Thomas M. Ball, MD, MPH, in a news release. Ball is associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Arizona. His study is published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

"This study gives credence to the hypothesis that ... immunity obtained in day care protects a child from colds later in life," he says. "But it also shows that whether children acquire immunity in preschool or elementary school, by the time they are 13, they seem to have similar levels of protection from viruses."

However, the authors add, the protection seems to wane by age 13.