You send your little ones to daycare thinking that they will stay safe, have fun, and be well cared for while you are at work. You probably even expect a phone call or two over the years telling you your toddler bit/hit/spit on/yelled at another kid in his class. Sometimes you want to do the same thing to some of your coworkers so you definitely don’t expect your 3-year-old to be able to ignore the urge forever. What you don’t expect is to find out that your kid’s allergies are being exacerbated while he’s at daycare. Unfortunately, the statistics on allergies in daycares are staggering.
Cat and Dog Allergies in Daycares
Since you chose to send your toddler to a daycare rather than the vet’s office, you don’t expect that your little one will have problems with cat and dog allergies at daycare. However, pet allergies are a real problem at daycares. A compilation of studies by the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2009 shows that pet allergens are likely found in carpeted and upholstered areas in daycares. This study was culled from a group of the most recent studies regarding statistics of allergens in daycares and child care facilities and summarized into one resource. Allergens are brought into daycare facilities on the clothing and shoes of children who live with pets of their own. While most levels of these allergens are quite low, there is a chance that your child could suffer allergies from exposure to them. Approximately .2 to 52.5 micrograms of cat and dog allergens were found in each dust sample taken from daycare facility carpets and upholstered surfaces, according to the NLM/NIH.
Dust Mites in Daycares
These sound about as gross as bed bugs, and that’s probably because they are. These little mites live in the deep regions of your carpets. The level of dust mites found in daycare facilities, however, is no higher than the level found in most homes, which means your toddlers aren’t being exposed to any more of these allergens than they are when they’re at home, according to the National Institute of Health. According to the NLM/NIH, airborne samples collected in daycare facilities did not contain enough dust mites to even be detected. However, deep in the carpets, there were as many as 100,000 dust mites per square yard, which is the same amount of dust mites in your own carpet at home.
This might make you start squirming in your chair, because rodents are just plain gross. Unfortunately, allergens from rodents such as rats, mice and cockroaches are abundant in schools and daycares. However, according to the National Institute of Health, these allergens are far more common in daycares that serve exceptionally low-income areas and rural areas. These studies indicate that rural daycares and daycares in low-income areas have less means to update their classrooms, which means more carpeting, older upholstered furniture, teachers who clean their own classrooms rather than using a professional cleaning service, and poorer air quality, ducts and insulation, which all work together to create the type of environment in which rodents like to live. These allergens are known to exacerbate asthma in children who suffer from it. But the majority of these allergens are found in the kitchens and other rooms where food is stored, rather than in your child’s classroom or playroom at daycare.
What Allergens in Schools Mean for Kids
Your toddler might not have allergies now, but according to the National Institute of Health, he may develop them over time due to poor indoor air quality and the presence of allergens at his daycare facility. Additionally, your toddler risks more exposure to allergens at school than older children because daycares use more fabric, such as Teddy bears, rugs, carpets and couches, than do traditional schools. Nearly 16 million kids miss a day of school or daycare each year due to allergens and asthma, and it affects your child’s teacher or caregiver just as much. Teachers and caregivers who suffer from allergies find that they are aggravated at work by the amount of allergens located in daycare facilities. According to the NLM/NIH, 54 percent of asthma cases that are reported in the medical field are from teachers and aides in daycares and schools. Researchers have discovered sufficient information to support the presence of allergens in your child’s daycare. If your child suffers from allergies before entering daycare, or begins to suffer from allergies or asthma after entering daycare, it is your job to speak to your child’s pediatrician for a diagnosis and treatment method. However, despite the findings in these studies, the level of allergens in every daycare varies greatly based on a number of factors, such as how many kids and/or teachers in the daycare own pets at home, the air quality, the age of the building, the income level of families and teachers who enter the building, the size of the kitchen and food storage facilities, the level of humidity and many other factors. You can address this matter by choosing a daycare facility that has leather or plastic furniture and wood and tile floors, since most allergens are found more commonly in upholstered and carpeted areas.