• Mon, Feb 17 - 4:30 pm ET

Just As You Suspected, Taking Your Healthy Kid To The Doc May Make Her Sick

shutterstock_113048947__1392662809_142.196.167.223My pediatrician has a separate waiting room for “well” patients and “sick” patients. I always wondered how effective this was, because it’s just separated by a glass wall – it’s not like they are separate enclosed rooms or anything. But I have to admit, it always makes me feel better to be in that well room, away from the sneezing children. I’m always a little reluctant to go into the “sick” area, even when my kids are unwell.

Well, it turns out I’m not being too paranoid. Taking your children to a pediatrician’s office for a well visit increases their chances of getting sick. It’s not surprising or rocket science – you are entering a building where there are undoubtedly the germs of sick children floating around everywhere. From Today Moms:

Children and their families had a 3.2 percent increase in flu-like infections after a child 6 or under went to a well-child visit, according to the survey data. While that increase seems small, experts estimate it amounts to about 700,000 cases of preventable flu-like infections each year.

Dr. Charles Foster, a pediatric infection disease physician at the Cleveland Clinic, says: “The risk to any individual patients is small but when you factor in how many well-child visit there are each year then they come up with a very large number.”

Well visits are very important, so doctors clearly aren’t recommending they be skipped. They insist that implementing better hygiene practices could lower the risk of spreading germs. Separate waiting areas are a good idea, as is the presence of tissues and hand sanitizers. As a parent, you may want to keep your kids away from the shared toys that are inevitably in doctor’s offices. Agreed. I hate when my kid touches those.

It may seem a little paranoid, but doctor’s offices should really offer face masks for sick children – assuming parents could get them to leave them on. I know in a way it could seem like, “big deal – it’s probably just a cold,” but after spending four days with an infant with a high fever last week, I can attest that even those no big deal colds can be really worrying. She ended up having a virus that we basically just needed to wait out, but a 103 degree fever for three days makes a parent a nervous wreck. And no one wants to see their child miserable and sick.

I may just be the paranoid parent with the kid in the face mask at the next well visit. At least until flu season is over.

(photo: Elena Yakusheva/ Shutterstock)

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  • brebay

    Wouldn’t it be a safer bet just to put a mask on your well child rather than trusting that every parent of a sick child will do it? In either case, your kid will probably get a couple of colds a year. In an otherwise healthy child, this is supposed to happen. It’s inconvenient, but healthy.

    • Guest

      That was my first thought- I’d just keep a pack of the mouth masks in the car and slap them on my kids before going in. I mean hopefully the sick ones also have masks on but if I’m really that worried about it take extra precautions.

    • Lu

      The masks are designed to keep germs in, not out. So, unfortunately that plan wouldn’t work out so well.

    • brebay

      wear it backwards.

  • Bethany Ramos

    Yup, my kids inevitably pick something off the floor and lick it at the doctor’s office, so they always return sick. :/

  • Kay_Sue

    What is with all these studies? I kind of figured this was common sense too, lol!

  • Crusty Socks

    This is why only healthy people should be allowed to go see a doctor

  • the_ether

    and this is why I love my excellent doctor who always sees me on time. No loitering in the waiting room!

  • classicfilmchic

    Even sick kids can get sicker going to the doctor. My daughter had a cough for a few weeks so I took her to the doctor and then the next morning she woke up with pink eye.

  • Valerie

    I love that our pedi’s office has no toys at all. Just TV’s playing kids shows and a giant chalkboard on one wall with chalk they are constantly replacing with new pieces. There are also tons of chairs and tables so it is easy to sit far away from the obviously sick little ones. I know there is no guarantee with this stuff but it does make me feel a little better.

  • K.

    Yes, and you know what else can make your kid sick? When he decides to lick the handrail of the NYC 6 train. Or insists on crawling down an office hallway. Or chews on the velcro strap of his shoes.

    All of which my kid did. On the way to the doctor and while we sat in the well waiting room.

    Screw “sick” and “well” waiting rooms. I think it should be “Gross Toddlers” and “Everyone else.”