graphic showing stylized hand washing, doctor with syringe and computer with maps on screen

According to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics, over 57 percent of children age four and under are enrolled in daycare. While daycare centers provide invaluable aid to many families, they are not without concerns, especially the spread of illness. According to a 2010 study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, some children who attend daycare have higher risks for respiratory and ear infections.

Here are a few precautions parents can take to keep kids healthy at daycare:

Hand-washing is the first defense
According to an American Cleaning Institute survey, 11 percent of kids age eight to 17 don’t regularly wash their hands. It’s these youngsters who contribute to the spread of a number of diseases, including the flu and common cold. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained that washing your hands can reduce the spread of illness by up to 21 percent in some cases. Children should wash their hands several times per day, including before and after they play outside or in large groups.

Proper diet and exercise are key
Diet and exercise can prevent the spread of illness in addition to helping kids maintain a proper weight. The American College of Sports Medicine surveyed 7 runners, and 61 percent revealed that they experienced fewer colds since the start of their individual running regimen. beginning to run regularly. Meanwhile, there are a bevy of foods that help prevent both the flu and colds, including sweet potatoes, oysters, salmon and citrus fruits.

Vaccinations are vital
In addition to routine exercise and a healthy diet, children also require annual vaccinations are imperative. According to Sarah J. Clark, associate director of the National Poll on Children’s Health, 25 percent of preschoolers aren’t up-to-date on boosters. That’s despite the fact that, per estimates from CDC Director Tom Frieden, most flu vaccines are between 50 and 60 percent effective. It’s also worth noting that – depending on several factors – some children require two annual shots to be fully covered.

Conduct research
Before you enroll your child in any daycare program, make sure to do your due diligence. Check with your local child care licensing board and research the daycare center, including any history of illnesses, health and sanitation rankings and how employees deal with sick children. Your child’s health is vital, and they deserve the kind of daycare providers that are both passionate and dedicated to his or her wellbeing.