Objectives: To study the impact of daycare attendance on airways infections and "allergic" symptoms of children aged 1-8 years in Northeast Texas.
Methods: Self-administrated questionnaires were distributed to parents through Women, Infants and Children offices, daycare centers, elementary schools, clinic centers, hospitals, and churches. The health outcomes consisted of "allergic" symptoms, and respiratory tract disorders. Questions on child care included; type of daycare settings (proxy for the number of children in daycare), time spent at daycare centers per week, and age of entry to a daycare center.
Results: A total of 3766 children participated in this study, giving a response rate of 71%. Daycare attendance was associated with more frequent respiratory tract infections and "allergic" symptoms, compared to home care. A dose-response relationship between time spent at daycare centers and prevalence of respiratory tract disorders and asthma and allergies was observed. Earlier age exposure at daycare centers was a risk factor for rhinitis up to 7-8 years.
Conclusions: Daycare attendance had a substantial negative influence on health status of children aged 1-8 years in Northeast Texas.