Don’t touch those toys

When you visit the pediatrician, keep your children away from the toys in the waiting room. It’s better to bring your own toys than to expose your kids to things that might make them sicker.

A study presented in October, 2008 confirmed that toys and other surfaces in the common areas of pediatrician’s offices often harbor disease-causing viruses. Furthermore, the use of disinfecting wipes really doesn’t make much of a difference.

Almost all common cold germs are picked up from contaminated surfaces by hands. You can bet that the surfaces, chairs, and toys in a doctor’s waiting room are probably coated with an infectious sheen of microorganisms. Children innocently rubbing their eyes or noses are probably inoculating themselves with a stew of whatever germs were left by the last sick child in the waiting room. This study confirms that these germs can survive for up to 24 hours, and are difficult to eradicate from surfaces even with good thorough wiping.

Colds may seem like an unavoidable nuisance, but there are some effective ways that can help your family stay healthy. Avoid sick people, get a good night’s sleep, keep your hands clean, and bring your own toys to the pediatrician’s office.

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4 Comments on “Don’t touch those toys”

  1. Shannon Says:

    I’m all for not wanting my children to be sick, but at what point do we become too concerned about our children picking up germs? Doesn’t it help them build immunities so that when they start school they aren’t sick as much? I thought that there were studies indicating that we are too clean a society that’s why we have increased asthma and allergies in our children. I know mothers that use anti-bacteria wipes and gels like there’s no tomorrow. I use them but sparingly because I’ve also heard that bacteria can become resistant to these as well. What’s the truth and at what point is it too much?


  2. Dr. Roy Says:

    Antiseptics– like alcohol and bleach– do not lead to the development of antibacterial resistance. I am a big fan of alcohol-based hand rubs for this reason. They’ve been shown to dramatically lessen the chance of infection.

    However, some “antimicrobial” products are made with genuine antibiotics, including some that are quite similar to antibiotics that are used in humans. Triclosan, commonly used in many “antimicrobial” items, has been shown in some (but not all) studies to garner resistance among bacteria, though it isn’t clear that this would have ill effects on people. Still, I think it’s prudent to rely on established, safe antiseptics rather than antibiotic-like agents for widespread use.


  3. Shannon Says:

    That’s good to know that I can’t overdo it with the gels! Thanks, Dr. Roy.


  4. Dr. Roy Says:

    It looks like I might have overlooked one potential problem with hand sanitizers:

    So: for children, OK, as long as they don’t drink a lot of it (a little bit licked off fingers isn’t going to hurt even a baby.) For prisoners, maybe alcohol-based hand gels aren’t a good idea!


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