Why Are Nursery Kids More Vulnerable to Illnesses Than Older Kids?
Younger children seem to get much sicker than older children, especially in the first few years of life. Runny noses, colds, throwing up, fevers, you name it, they have it. With young children in the house, sometimes it seems like you are constantly being nurse to your children. There are several reasons why the little ones get more sick.
Before a child starts school, they average about six to eight cold per year. A young child has a very immature immune system so this makes him particularly vulnerable. A mother passes on some protective antibodies during pregnancy, and breastfeeding provides some as well, but the child is pretty much working from none at all. One other big factor is that small children are little germ factories. They don’t cover their mouths, clear their noses, or remember to wash their hands. At about age five, children can master some of these things fairly well. By that age, they are starting to develop some immunities of their own to fight illness.
Some children are exposed to secondhand smoke, which makes them susceptible to ear infections, pneumonia and bronchitis, croup and sinus infections. If you do smoke, be especially careful to do so only outside, not near your child, and never in a car.
Another way young children are exposed to infections is by attending daycare, preschool, and nurseries. The basic way a germ is passed on from one child to the next is through the air by sneezing, coughing and breathing. Young children seldom put their hands over the mouth or wash their hands as often as they should. Everything in that child’s path becomes contaminated by germs. Multiply that by the number of kids in the facility, and you have many germs being passed around.
Sometimes the cold you think your child has is actually allergies, as this age is when they often develop. These nasal irritations make the child even more susceptible to asthma, ear infections and bronchitis, especially if one of the parents is a smoker.
Winter is the time when most illnesses in small children are seen. It is generally thought that this occurs when there is closer contact between children because they are indoors most of the time, and there is less exposure to fresh air which can dilute the amount of germs in the air.
If a child has siblings in school, it magnifies even more the amount of exposure he has to germs. Older siblings very often bring home viruses their younger brothers and sisters have not already been exposed to.
At this age, parents often feel frustrated because their child is always sick. They have to take time off from work or make other child care arrangements, and often parents are sleep deprived from taking care of the child. Medications are costly and parents constantly have to make visits to the pediatrician. Topping it off, often no sooner does the child get well than the parent becomes ill. The good news is that through all this, your child is developing immunities and ways to fight infection that will last the rest of his life.