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Symptoms to Check before Keeping Children Away from School

Update Date: Jan 21, 2013 05:37 AM EST

During the winter season, it is very common for children to fall ill, as they are mostly inside due to bad weather. It becomes difficult for the parent to determine whether their child is well enough to go to school or if it would be better to let them stay at home.

Here are some tips given by Robert Key, M.D., a family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Prairie du Chien, which would make the decision easier for parents. The four main infectious diseases affecting children and keeping them from school has been identified by Mayo Clinic as colds, the stomach "flu", pink eye and impetigo.

"Young children's immune systems haven't learned to recognize and resist most common viruses. That's why, until they're 8 or so, kids seem to bring home everything that's making the rounds at school. Children can typically have six to 10 colds per year. In general, children should stay home when they don't feel well enough to participate in normal daily activities and lack sufficient alertness to learn or play," Dr. Key said in a news release.

According to Dr. Key, parents should not allow their children to go to school if they have any one of the following symptoms:

  • If the child is unable to retain food and/or drink or vomits twice or more within the span of 24 hours.
  • If his/her temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
  • If he/she experiences severe coughing or difficulty in breathing.
  • Frequent diarrhea for a minimum of one day.
  • Persistent abdominal pain for more than two hours.
  • Open sores on the mouth.
  • An unknown skin rash or red eye.
  • Head lice or scabies.
  • Strep throat, chicken pox, impetigo and other contaminating illnesses.

In case of any one of these symptoms, it is always advisable to consult a pediatrician to check the severity of the illness. In order to avoid getting these diseases, regular handwash for at least 15 seconds is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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