We recently had our first child, a lovely vivacious little girl. She seems normal in every way, and like most kids attending daycare has already gotten sick a few times. We were prepared for this and for missing a few days of work to stay home and take care of her. But what we weren’t prepared for was us falling sick. I have never had a great immune system and get maybe three colds a year. But my wife almost never gets sick, maybe 4 times in the 12 years we have been married. But now with the kid, we get sick every time she does. It’s not really a surprise that I’m getting it, but that my wife gets sick too does surprise me. A couple months ago my daughter had her first stomach flu, with vomiting and everything. A few days later, my wife and I got the same stomach bug, on exactly the same day. I used to get stomach bugs when I was a kid, but I don’t think I have vomited from a virus in more than 20 years. And at this moment my wife and I both seem to have caught a pretty hefty cold from our daughter. This is my third day home from work, with a 101 degree fever and persistent head and body aches. Usually I miss only one day from work with a cold, if at all.
So other than contemplating my current state of misery, I was just wondering whether it is a recognized fact that kids make their parents sick, and why does this happen? It’s not like my wife and I don’t get exposed to germs in the adult world. Are we particularly vulnerable to baby germs? And why are we getting diseases we haven’t had in decades (i.e. stomach flu) and why do even the colds seem more intense?
Posting this to GQ as I am hoping there is a factual answer to this.
I’ve heard about this kind of thing happening a lot. It is even joked - here in Holland - that recent grads are likely to be sick a lot when they start jobs, just because many coworkers will have children and thus carry their kids viruses to the work floor.
Maybe I’m missing the point, but why would my daughter’s daycare germs make me sicker than my (or my wife’s) office germs? Are you saying that my body has built up resistance to office germs but not to germs at the daycare?
First of all, you (and your wife) probably have a lot closer contact with her than you do with anyone else in the world. It’d be a lot easier to catch something from someone whom you’re constantly snuggling, getting thrown up upon by, and changing diapers, than from someone whom you merely wave at or occasionally shake hands.
Second, “stomach flu” usually isn’t contagious. It’s usually due to minor food poisoning, and members of a family all get it at the same time by virtue of eating the same things.
As another anecdata point - my wife is a primary school teacher (teaching 4- and 5-year-olds) and she always seems to get colds. However, it seems as if she ends up bringing home a weakened version of them to me, as, while I quite often get that “I’m coming down with a cold” feeling for 12 hours or so, it is very rare that they actually develop. I think I’ve had maybe one bad cold in the past 18 months.
We’re hoping to start a family soon, so maybe I’ll find out if it’s different when the adorable little germ dispensers are actually living under your roof.
Stomach flu is, by definition, a viral infection. In young children it is usually a rotavirus infection. Very contagious. Nothing at all to do with food poisoning, though it can be transmitted through food or cutlery/crockery.
After the first week in school my daughter comes home with something, then my wife will catch it and right when she’s about to get better I’ll come down with it. This happens like clockwork in our home. Last week was no exception, I’m still getting over what the kidder brought home and everyone at work seemed empathetic due to similar experiences.
Kids this age aren’t great at washing hands, covering while they sneeze, cough, etc. Your experience is more the rule than the exception.
SiL-the-doctor developed the following WAG one afternoon we were sitting by the pool: the kid has already built up resistance to the germs you guys bring home (and which she’s WAGging are likely to not vary much since most grown-ups don’t meet and specially don’t enter into physical contact with many new people), so she’ll only get sick from bugs which are “new” for her immune system. These will also be “new” to yours. As the kids get older, they encounter less variation on bugs (out of some 2400 kids in my nephew’s school, only about 200 leave and 200 new ones arrive every year) and their immune systems are more experienced and stronger, and they’re less likely to lick/grab/hit/smoosh/hug their classmates and other people, so they’re less likely to get sick and less likely to bring The Dreaded Baby-Delivered Bugs Of Doom home.
We’re not planning on testing the hypothesis any time soon, but the crushed lemon ice over which it got developed was good.
“Influenza” is a viral infection, which can manifest in nausea, vomitting and diarrhea. But when most people *self report *“stomach flu” or “the flu”, they’re suffering from food borne illness.
Gotta go with **Chronos **on this one.
And yes, if you get even a microscopic fleck of feces on your hand while changing a diaper, touch your daughter’s cheek with that hand and then give her a kiss on that spot, you’re likely to contract many oral fecal route bugs, even if you wash your hands like you’ve got OCD. Everything from norovirus (not “food poisoning”) to salmonella (“food poisoning”) to hepatitis A (not “food poisoning”, but it can be “food borne”).
And again yes, it’s well recognized that children in daycare or school leads to more illness in the whole family as the little germ factories bring everything home. It’s not just because viruses mutate, it’s just because children are dirty little creatures, share everything and don’t wash their hands well or often. You’re simply exposed to exponentially more things, from the other students and their families and their families’ work places, too.
The good news is, it slows down after a year or two if she stays at the same school. When you share a “germ pool” with a group of people, you tend to get and then become immune to the kinds of illnesses you all (eventually) share. Plus, eventually kids learn to use Kleenex and how and when to properly wash their hands, and aren’t as likely to stick toys in their mouths and then share them with their friends.
I have had novo and I have had salmonella, and believe me, you do not want food poisoning … I ended up in hospital from good old salmonella [there is a Taco Bell I would love seen nuked from orbit] and there is a seriously noticeable difference between the two. Just like there is a hell of a difference between a classic bug and influenza [bug if you see a naked woman with a $100 bill, you are willing to go take it from her and make a pass at her, influenza you ask her to make you some hot tea with lemon and chicken soup then roll over and go back to sleep.]
When our kids were small and in nursery school we got sick far, far more often than previously or since. I had a new job back then and was taking time off every few months, especially in the winter. It’s all a blur now.
When I started teaching in public schools instead of more privat tutoring I had several colds every semester. First I talked to the headmaster about it and he showed me some interesting statistics. When school started after summer, the attendance for booth pupils and teachers where almost 100%, after 2 weeks sometimes down to 50 or 60%, and then rising again.
I also asked my medical doctor who basically said you just had to put up with it for about 2 years, until you became immune to the most common viruses. He said it was the same when parents put their children in daycare. When the contact net increases you get exposed to you viruses you are not used to.
In my case it certanly got better after a couple of years.