Upper respiratory infections are more common during the winter.

Daycares and Pneumonia

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell

If your toddler or preschooler goes to daycare, he's a veritable sitting duck when it comes catching any number of infections that can lead to pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. Little ones under age 5 and the elderly are most susceptible to developing pneumonia, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nasty symptoms like chest pain, chills, fatigue, vomiting and nausea can occur when pneumonia strikes.

1. Breeding Ground for Respiratory Ailments

Respiratory infections at daycare centers can range in severity from a common cold or flu on up the illness chain to bronchitis and pneumonia. Young children who spend time in daycare often come down with a variety of respiratory ailments, advises Education.com. Pneumonia itself does not spread from child to child, but the germ that triggered the original cold or upper respiratory condition may be contagious. The same respiratory germ may cause some daycare attendees to become extremely sick, while others -- and hopefully yours are in this group -- have only a hint of a bug or stay perfectly healthy.

2. High Risk Factors -- Fact and Fiction

If your toddler or preschooler has a compromised immune system or lungs that don't function at full throttle because of asthma, cystic fibrosis or cancer and the chemotherapy used to treat it, she faces a greater risk of contracting pneumonia than healthier kids, explains HealthyChildren.org, a website published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The air temperature of the daycare center, such as keeping the building a little too cool for your tyke's comfort, or not dressing warm enough has no bearing on the odds of developing pneumonia

3. Types, Treatment and Recovery

Pneumonia is generally linked to contagious viral or bacterial infections. Both types are more likely to spread around when children are in close contact indoors for hours at a time. When bacteria are to blame for a case of pneumonia, your young child will almost immediately come down with a high fever and breathe rapidly. Antibiotics can help wipe out bacterial pneumonia, and your little one will be back to her bouncy, energetic self in a week or two. When pneumonia is caused by a virus such as respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, antibiotics are a waste of time and money as the infection has to heal on its own. Since viral pneumonia must run its course, it may linger much longer than the bacterial variety. Contact your doctor right away if you suspect that your toddler or preschooler has pneumonia. In severe cases, your child may need to be hospitalized. Following a bout with pneumonia, your child can return to daycare if he feels well, isn't running a fever and has been given the all-clear by his pediatrician.

4. Prevention

It's not easy to completely wipe out the germs and bacteria found in daycare settings that can lead to pneumonia. Encouraging your child to follow proper hygiene practices like washing his hands after using the bathroom and before eating can help guard against respiratory infections. Make sure your toddler or preschooler is up-to-date on his immunizations. Pneumonia can be prevented with vaccines, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Several immunizations that prevent infection caused by bacteria or viruses that may lead to pneumonia are available. They include pneumococcal, haemophilus influenzae type b, or Hib, which prevents serious conditions like meningitis, pneumonia and a severe throat infection called epiglottitis. Other recommended vaccines include pertussis, or whooping cough; varicella, which is also known as chickenpox; measles, and the flu vaccine.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images