of the best methods for avoiding the spread of germs and infections
is handwashing. Yet handwashing rates in schools are low:
Research has indicated that only a quarter of middle- and
high-school girls wash their hands with soap after visiting
the bathroom; less than 10% of boys appear to do the same.
The purpose of a recent study in the American Journal
of Infection Control was to evaluate the effectiveness
of a handwashing campaign on absenteeism rates in five elementary
schools. Two "test" classrooms and two "control" classrooms
were included from each school. Only test classrooms completed
a one-hour educational class on germ-spreading and handwashing
techniques and received a supply of hand sanitizer. Data on
absences for nearly 300 children were tallied over three months.
Children using the hand sanitizer were 50% less likely to
be absent than children who did not receive sanitizer and
handwashing education. Also, absences were decreased in 23
of 27 months for the handwashing groups. Researchers estimated
that the handwashing education saved each school approximately
$24,000 per year in the form of time saved by teachers (preparing
take-home and remedial work).
Schools, similar to hospitals, are areas prone to the transmission
of microorganisms because of the high number of people in
a small area and the sharing of objects. Teach your children
about the importance of handwashing, and provide them the
means to do so to reduce their number of sick days this year.
Guinan M, McGuckin M, Ali Y. The effect of a comprehensive
handwashing program on absenteeism in elementary schools.
American Journal of Infection Control 2002:30(4), pp.
For more pediatric health information, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/childhood.html.