Abu Dhabi: Doctors advise parents whose children were born with respiratory infections due to a premature birth, to avoid sending them to daycare centres during the first two years of their lives.

A study from the Johns Hopkins Children Centre (JHCC), reveals that exposure to common viruses in daycare, puts children with a chronic lung condition caused by premature birth, at risk for serious respiratory infections.

The condition known as chronic lung disease of prematurity (CLDP) is normally common among children aged three and under, and can result in health risks such as increased emergency room visits, medication use, and more days with breathing problems. As defined by the JHCC, the condition develops in about a quarter of babies born at or before 26 weeks of gestation, but even those born as late as 32 weeks of gestation can develop CLDP, however most children with CLDP improve with age as their lungs mature, but about one-fourth continue to have respiratory problems as adults.

Because the often serious complications caused by these infections can land children in the hospital, and require prolonged treatment, JHCC health professionals have published a circular urging paediatricians to make parents aware of daycare-acquired infection risks, and advise that they monitor their prematurely born patients, regardless of age, for signs of lung diseases,

"Young children who attend day care centres are exposed to common childhood infections at an earlier age," Dr. Andrew Meeks, Chief of Service, Neonatology, at Corniche Hospital, told Gulf News.

Paediatric advice

"Whilst this is not usually a problem for healthy children, if you are concerned that your child has a persistent or chronic breathing problem, it would be sensible to take the advice of your paediatrician before considering daycare."

Lung specialist at JHCC, Sharon McGrath-Morrow, said that daycare can be a breeding ground for viruses, and puts these already vulnerable children at risk for prolonged illness and serious complications from infections that are typically mild and short lived in children with healthy lungs.