Nav: Home

Poll: Parents struggle with when to keep kids home sick from school

January 16, 2017

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - It can be a nerve-wracking, game time decision for parents: whether their sick child should stay home from school.

But opinions among parents differ when it comes to how sick is too sick, or the importance of sick day consequences such as parents missing work or kids missing tests, according to a new national poll from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Seventy-five percent of parents report at least one sick day for their child in the past year. The top factors in parents' decision to keep a child home included concern that the illness would get worse or spread to classmates, according to today's nationally representative poll report.

Parents of younger children (ages 6 to 9) most frequently rate health related concerns as very important considerations in calling a sick day while two in five parents of high schoolers place similar value on missing tests or falling behind in class work.

Symptoms also make a difference. Most parents (80 percent) are not likely to send a child to school with diarrhea, but have less agreement about vomiting (58 percent) or a slight fever but acting normally (49 percent). Few parents say they are not likely to send a child with red watery eyes but no fever (16 percent), or a runny nose, dry cough and no fever (12 percent).

"Parents often have to make a judgment call about whether their child's sickness warrants staying home," says lead author and Mott poll co-director Gary Freed, M.D., M.P.H. "We found that the major considerations were whether attending school could negatively impact a child's health or the health of classmates."

Freed says parents may recognize that certain symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting would significantly disrupt a child's school day. But most parents did not view familiar symptoms, such as a runny nose or dry cough without a fever, as serious enough to miss school.

"It can be difficult to predict if a child will feel worse after going to school or how long symptoms of minor illnesses will last, so parents are often basing decisions on their best guess," Freed says.

Logistics also influence the decision to keep a child home from school. Eleven percent of parents cite not wanting to miss work as very important while 18 percent say not being able to find someone to stay home with their sick child is a very important factor. This is less of an issue as children get older, with 32 percent of parents allowing older children to stay home alone when sick.

Only 6 percent of parents say that missing after-school activities is very important.

The report was based on responses from 1,442 parents who had at least one child age 6-18 years.

What parents should know

Off to school or stay home? Doctors offer guidelines to consider if your child is sick.

* A phone call or visit to the child's health care provider can help you know whether the child has a serious illness, but may not clarify how long symptoms will last.
  • Does your child have a runny nose but is in good spirits, playing and eating? Send them to school with extra tissues. But if symptoms are accompanied by decreased appetite, lethargy, mood change or breathing difficulty, call the child's health care provider.
  • A spike in temperature does not always mean something serious. If children are attentive and playing, a school day likely won't hurt. But if the fever persists more than three days or comes with other symptoms (like listlessness or vomiting), keep them home, and consider calling their health care provider.
  • The cause of diarrhea and vomiting could range from a virus to food poisoning. If symptoms will disrupt the school day, are accompanied by pain or fever or if the child is too young to manage symptoms (e.g. making trips to the bathroom, being conscious of handwashing) keep your child home.
-end-
Read the full report: http://mottnpch.org/reports-surveys/parents-struggle-when-keep-sick-kids-home-school

University of Michigan Health System

Related Diarrhea Articles:

How diarrhea pathogens switch into attack mode at body temperature
Many bacterial pathogens excrete toxins as soon as they have entered the host in order to suppress its immune response.
Scientists link La Niña climate cycle to increased diarrhea
A study in Botswana by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health scientists finds that spikes in cases of life-threatening diarrhea in young children are associated with La Niña climate conditions.
Successful study of Swedish vaccine candidate against diarrhea
University of Gothenburg reports first successful results of the oral, inactivated vaccine candidate ETVAX against enterotoxigenic E. coli diarrhea in a placebo-controlled phase I/II study in infants and children from 6 months to 5 years of age in Bangladesh.
Rice bran may help curb malnutrition, diarrhea for infants
A new study led by Colorado State University found that adding rice bran for infants who were being weaned from their mother's milk resulted in them receiving more nutrients that enhanced growth and reduced diarrhea.
AGA releases guideline on the evaluation of chronic diarrhea
Diagnosing patients with chronic watery diarrhea can be difficult for health care providers, since several causes with specific therapies, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), microscopic colitis and chronic infection, need to be ruled out.
Fighting child diarrhea
An automatic chlorine dispenser installed at shared community water points reduces rates of diarrhea in children.
Researchers determine bacteria structure responsible for traveler's diarrhea
For the first time researchers have deciphered the near-atomic structure of filaments, called 'pili', that extend from the surface of bacteria that cause traveler's diarrhea.
CFTR inhibition: The key to treating bile acid diarrhea?
Estimates are that roughly 1% of people in Western countries may have bile acid diarrhea, including patients with Crohn's disease, ileal resection, diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D), and chronic functional diarrhea.
Treatment for common cause of diarrhea more promising
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have figured out how to grow the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium in the lab, an achievement that will speed efforts to treat or prevent diarrhea caused by the parasite.
Widely used public health surveys may underestimate global burden of childhood diarrhea
Public health surveys used in as many as 90 countries may be missing the number of recent diarrhea episodes among children by asking parents and caregivers to recall events two weeks versus one week out, suggests a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
More Diarrhea News and Diarrhea Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.