Frequent Infections-Why Is My Child Always Sick?

Typically, as kids begin school or child care, parents notice their child is seemingly always sick.This is a common complaint, and in almost all cases, they are relieved to find out there is nothing wrong with their child.

In fact, many children, especially when entering a child-care or school setting for the first time, get sick frequently. Parents are surprised to discover the average child who attends child care for the first time will get between 12-14 infections (either colds, or gastroenteritis) per year.For example, a four-year-old child may be sick more frequently than every month— and if each infection lasts about a week, the child can then seem to be sick all the time.The reason is children who attend child care or school for the first time are exposed to many new germs in these settings. The good news is as the years go by, children develop immunity or protection against these infections and are sick less often.

Is there a serious problem?

The obvious concern is whether there is an underlying problem making a child prone to such frequent infections. One important clue lies in whether a child is growing well despite the repeated infections. Fortunately, in most cases, these children grow normally, according to their growth curves. This is a very important and reassuring find. Another clue we look for is how severe the infections are: Do they require hospitalization such as for a severe pneumonia or infection of the blood?

Fortunately, in most situations the infections are not serious and usually subside on their own. This pattern or trend helps reassure us and parents the child has no underlying problem. If there is a suspicion of something more serious, then further tests are necessary. However, this is not the case in the majority of children with frequent infections.

Read about how to prevent the spread of infections.