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Kids In a Bubble

By Allison Janse

As you're wiping your child's hands with instant hand sanitizer, you may hear some people say, "When I was a kid we didn't have sanitizers for everything. How do today's kids build their immune system if we keep them in a bubble?"

The reality is, the bubble has been burst, as more kids than ever before are trotting off to daycare at young ages, going to restaurants and traveling on airplanes more frequently than generations past. While we are doing our best to expose our kids to these enriching experiences, we're also exposing them to viruses and bacteria that spread easily from person to person. Since children under the age of five are more prone to complications from colds and flu, what can parents do to keep our kids healthy?

The first step is to be aware that 50 to 80 percent of infectious diseases are caused by things we touch in our environment.

Here's one example:

The next time you go shopping think twice about this: When you touch the shopping cart or your child touches the handle on the shopping cart, and it is laden with e. Coli from a leaky meat case, and then you sample the deli turkey or put your hand to your mouth, your life could literally be in your own hands. The solution? Bring along a disinfecting wipe for the cart or let your child hold a toy so his hands are less likely to find their way into his mouth.

Use a piece of paper towel to open the public restroom door on your way out, since studies show that there are more germs on the faucet in the restroom than almost anywhere else, including the toilet seat.

Never place your purse on the floor in a public restroom; put your purse on your lap or hang it around your shoulder; the floor is a germ breeding ground and the problem is you're likely to take that contaminated purse and put it on your countertop at home where you'll be preparing food for your family.

When eating out with very young children, bring along sanitizing wipes to clean the area where they will be eating. Why? Most restaurant servers use the same dirty rag as they go around wiping the tables "clean and actually transfer dangerous bacteria from table to table. If you have children, they will likely drop food on the table and, as a reflex, will pick it up and eat it. Do you really want them taking a handful of bacteria with their Cheerios?

Pack your kids lunch box with some instant hand sanitizer: Studies show that using these sanitizers cuts absenteeism in schools by 30 to 50 percent.

Consider putting a HEPA filter in common areas of your home so that if child gets sick he won't pass it to everyone near him.

Sanitize your work area if you plan to eat your lunch (or a snack) while sitting at your workstation and/or desk. Studies by Charles Gerba, Ph.D., revealed that public toilet seats actually have less germs per inch than desktops in a typical workplace.

By Allison Janse, Author of The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu

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