Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 17th 2013 Contents graders the proper techniques.
Judy Harrison, a foods and nutrition
professor at the University of Georgia,
says studies she s conducted show that
most children don t know how to wash
their hands properly (only 28 per cent
knew the right method). Properly
washed hands cut down on gastroin-
testinal problems, as well as the cold
and flu. Harrison designed the "Wash
Your Paws, Georgia!" hand-washing
"I teach them to sing happy birthday
to yourself twice to make sure they
wash for at least 20 seconds," Harrison
She also teaches them to clean
between their fingers and around their
fingernails and to use a clean paper
towel or a hot air dryer to dry off.
A lot of people think hand sanitiser
is better, she says, but really, washing
with soap and water is the most effec-
tive way to eliminate germs. (cnn.com)
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, August 17, 2013
OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
As a first-grade teacher, Julie Miller is exposed
to a horrifying number of germs on a daily basis.
"I ve been thrown up on; they sneeze and cough
on me. And lost teeth are a real big thing for first-
graders," said Miller, who teaches at Spring Hills Ele-
mentary in the suburbs of Chicago.
"They re so cute and unaware, though. They ll
have boogers hanging out of their nose and will be
talking to you and not think anything of it. Some
teachers flip out, but I tell my students, Go get a
Kleenex and wash your hands. When they sneeze,
I teach them to do it into their elbows. They learn
On average, elementary schoolchildren get eight
to 12 colds or cases of the flu each school year, accord-
ing to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). For the
older kids, it is about half that. Teachers and parents
commonly refer to it as the Back-to-School Plague.
But there are simple ways to keep your children
Miller, who is getting her son Justin ready to go
to kindergarten, isn t worried.
"I ve taught my kids healthy habits; I m sure they ll
be fine," Miller said. She makes sure they get plenty
of sleep, exercise regularly and eat healthy food. She s
taught her children to wash their hands often, and
she s hooked antibacterial gels on their backpacks for
when they can t.
"I m not a germaphobe like some of my colleagues
who have put antibacterial lotion all over the place:
their cars, their classrooms," Miller said. "I do feel
like some germs are OK."
Germ candy stores: that s what Dr Harley Rotbart,
a professor of paediatrics at the University of Colorado
and author of the book Germ Proof Your Kids, calls
"It is stunning how many times kids touch their
faces and then touch other kids," Rotbart said. "This
is a very touchy-feely demographic, and that s how
we share germs. ... And the little ones don t have the
same exposure to germs that we do, so until their
immune systems get built up, they get sick."
Schools are full of "hot zones" for germs, Rotbart
says. "Most people think that s the bathroom, but it
really isn t. Those get regularly cleaned."
If he had to rank the germiest places in school, No
1 would be the drinking fountain. It s germier than
the toilet seat, he says, but "doesn t get disinfected
as much." Plus, it s the perfect spot for kids to ingest
these microorganisms as they put their mouths on
the stream of water---or right on the fountain itself.
Rotbart suggests teaching students to run the water
a little first and then drink. Or better yet, children
should bring their own water bottles to school and
not share them with anyone.
Cafeteria trays are another germ hot zone. "Those
don t get wiped down nearly as well," he said, rec-
ommending that kids bring the tray to their table
and then use hand sanitiser before they pick up their
"There is a real delicate balance though; we don t
want to make kids paranoid," Rotbart said. "We need
to be prudent. Germs for people who are healthy
really aren t a big deal."
Rotbart tells parents to make sure their children
get enough rest. School-age children should get get
ten to 11 hours of sleep every night, according to the
CDC. Sleep deprivation lowers the immune system s
ability to fight off infection.
Exercise, Rotbart says, is another effective way to
keep kids healthy. He suggests a daily dose of 40
minutes of running-around time, even in the winter.
If it s cold, children need to keep their jackets zipped
and hats on their heads.
Your child s diet also plays an important role in
warding off illness. Foods rich in vitamin C don t
keep colds away altogether, but they can shorten the
length of a cold. And make sure little Johnny or Julie
gets a flu shot early in the season.
In order to stop germs from ever entering the body,
hand-washing is key.
Every year, Miller invites a nurse to teach her first
Avoid the 'back-to-school plague'
get eight to 12
colds or cases
of the flu each
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