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Scientists from Drexel University in Philadelphia reported that kids in neighborhoods with one or more day care centers don't get sick more often from extra germs circulating in the area.
"Hypothetically, more day care use could translate to more children, parents and caretakers getting sick because of everyone being in contact with each other. But we wanted to ask the question, 'Do these people carry germs back into the local community, making other kids sick?' " said study leader Neal Goldstein.
He's an assistant research professor in the university's Dornsife School of Public Health and made his comments in a university news release.
The researchers looked specifically at reported cases of whooping cough among children up to the age of 6 from 2001 through 2013. Overall, 410 cases were identified.
The researchers analyzed where these children lived in relation to the 2,000 registered day care sites in Philadelphia. In the end, the investigators found no connection between living near day care centers and higher rates of whooping cough.
Among a large control group of children who did not get whooping cough, 81 percent were fully immunized against the infection. Among the children studied who did contract whooping cough, only 64 percent were immunized.
"The most important factor we observed that was correlated with greater pertussis risk was lack of vaccination," Goldstein said. "We know that vaccination is important, but this analysis suggests that it's even more important than where you live."
Registered child care centers have strict immunization requirements that effectively keep infection rates in check, the study authors explained.
The findings were published recently in the journal Public Health.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
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