Preschool age children who attend day care have a heightened risk of developing respiratory and allergy symptoms, according to results of a study conducted by Swedish researchers.
Dr. Linda Hagerhed-Engman, of SP Swedish National Testing and Research Institute, Boras and colleagues examined the effect of day care attendance and age on respiratory and allergic diseases in children between the ages of 1 and 6 years.
The parents of more than 10,800 children completed a cross-sectional survey. Along with respiratory and allergy symptoms, questions focused on the home environment and information about day care.
In the last 12 months, compared with children in home care, children in day care had more symptoms, including an increased risk of 33 percent for wheeze; 56 percent for cough at night; 23 percent for doctor diagnosed asthma; 15 percent for rhinitis; 75 percent for doctor diagnosed hay fever; 49 percent for eczema; and 27 percent for food allergy.
In addition, the odds of having more than six colds in the last 12 months was increased by more than 2.5-fold, and for ever having an ear infection by more than 2.0-fold, among children attending day care.
The increased risks were most pronounced for the youngest group of children, those between the ages of 1 and 4 years.
In light of the significant increases in allergic diseases in Sweden over the last decades, the researchers conclude that the “findings justify a significant public health concern.”
SOURCE: Allergy, April 2006.
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD