It's true: Parents get sicker than their kids

Why do parents seem to get sicker than their kids? Kim Smith explains.

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Back to school and a change in the weather marks the time of year when being constantly sick seems to come with the territory for parents of young kids.

“He brings home whatever he’s touching,” said mom Lara Courtepatte at Cafe O’Play in Edmonton. She has a two-year-old and a six-month old.

“It’s like a domino effect. So it starts with one kid, goes to the next kid, then I get it and my husband gets it and all four of us are sick in consecutive order.”

“Every mom I talk to says they get it worse than their kids.”

Global News spoke with Dr. Rhonda Low, a family physician at the University of British Columbia and the Copeman Healthcare Centre, who explained why parents often get it worse than their kids.

“Parents with kids under the age are five are sick all the time. What happens is usually the child recovers pretty quickly, but the parents are left in the dust for weeks,” Low said. “They’re seeing viruses now that they’ve never seen or experienced in the past and they don’t have any immunity to.”

READ MORE: Back to school: 5 lesser-known tips for keeping kids on time in the morning

Jason Tetro, microbiologist and author of The Germ Code, said children are more sick before the age of seven as their immune systems develop.

“Think of it this way. Your kids are going to school to train the brain. When they go to school in a microbiol perspective, they’re training the immune system,” Tetro said.

Tetro provided five tips for parents trying to avoid getting sick:

  • Wash hands and use hand sanitizers
  • Keep the kitchen clean using disinfectants and hot water: “Pay attention to all surfaces. People are going to wash their forks and knives but are they going to pay attention to the remote that goes into baby’s mouth?”
  • Wash laundry in hot water as it kills germs. Cold water doesn’t always do the job: “Our clothes will always pick up what we’re spreading and that could include the saliva from a child that could potentially be infectious.”
  • Quarantine the objects, not the sick child: “We know that quarantining the child doesn’t work, so instead keep the toys away.”
  • Wash toys when kids are sick: “Remember the universal rule: If it’s wet, it’s probably alive. Any fluids from a child’s body, especially when sick, will have the potential to spread. Keep sanitizing wipes nearby.”

“So let the kids get sick when they’re younger. Try your best to not get what they’re having. And then as they grow older be happy that they’re going to become less sick,” he said.


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