The next time you visit your pediatrician you may want to take your child's toys and books from home with you, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises.
The organization of American pedias recently released guidelines on preventing the spread of diseases in doctor’s clinics and other ambulatory settings. Though the guidelines are aimed at healthcare personnel — and include advice on how best avoid disease transmission in waiting rooms, examination areas and the like — there are takeaways for parents taking their child to the doctor as well.
For example, parents are encouraged to bring toys from home to minimize sharing — the kids who visit a doctor's office can potentially be sick with contagious diseases after all. “Cross-contamination could occur from toys, books, and computers, among other fomites in the waiting room or the clinic examination rooms,” reads the policy statement. These objects have been shown to transmit harmful pathogens like those that cause influenza and gastrointestinal diseases, says the AAP.
If the waiting room toys are too tempting for your little one, make sure to steer her away from the furry stuffed animals. These “are difficult to clean and can harbor germs and should be avoided in clinic waiting for areas and game rooms,” said the AAP. The toys that are disposable or washable are safer options. Ideally, these are cleaned and disinfected by healthcare personnel daily, recommended the medical organization.
While in the waiting room, patients are encouraged to practice hand hygiene and “cough etiquette” as well. This means teaching your child to cough into a tissue or the crook of her elbow — not her hand. Proper hand hygiene should also be done after coughing or sneezing. If hand washing with soap and water is not available, alcohol is also okay -- so, bring a small bottle of it too along with your child’s toys.
There is also the possibility that a child sick with a contagious disease like measles or chickenpox was brought to the same doctor’s office as your little one. So keep up to date with your child’s vaccine schedule. “There’s nothing better than giving your child vaccines to prevent infections,” Dr. Mobeen H. Rathore, the lead author on the policy statement and chief of pediatric infectious disease at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, told The New York Times.
If you suspect that your child is ill with a highly contagious disease such as varicella, measles, pertussis, influenza, and mumps, inform the staff right away. They may make special arrangements to minimize the risk of contamination.