Updated 12 May 2014

Boost your child's immunity

Many parents worry their child may contract crèche syndrome - repeated episodes of infections as a direct result of their exposure to other kids at day-care.


Our modern lifestyles make it difficult for working parents not to place their children with alternative caregivers or in day-care facilities such as pre-schools and crèches. These parents face the risk that their infants or toddlers may contract crèche syndrome.

This is a phenomenon whereby young children come down with repeated episodes of infections as a direct result of their exposure to other kids at their day-care centres.

In a crèche environment, children actively engage with each other for several hours at a time. Being at such close quarters exposes little ones to whatever infections are doing the rounds – and for some, this means an exhausting and never-ending rollercoaster ride of illness, doctor visits and medication.

What causes crèche syndrome?

Medical experts believe that crèche syndrome results from attacks on a child’s vulnerable and developing immune system. Since your kids are still developing immunity to specific pathogens, their bodies are more susceptible to germs and bacteria at a young age and this explains why they fall ill more often and why they are often more severely affected by the infection.

Treatment is usually symptomatic and seldom addresses the cause – the underdeveloped immune system.  A common recurrent treatment option is an antibiotic which often does not treat the infection as it is very often a viral infection. Treatment with antibiotics also perpetuates the situation of antibiotic resistance which is of increasing concern. The best way to deal with crèche syndrome is to help the immune system to fight infection and thereby prevent the cycle of the condition. 

Strengthening a child’s immune system

Making the right food choices for kids is extremely important.  Avoiding the wrong foods is just as essential as adding the right foods though, and staples to go for include green, orange and yellow vegetables – brocolli, carrots and butternut are some readily-available examples. 

Parents know, however, that getting kids to eat their veggies isn’t always easy.  That’s when vitamin and mineral supplements come in.  Zinc, Omegas and Vitamin A are vital to the reinforcement of a growing immune system.

Besides these, which many parents are already doing to help their children stay healthy, there are probiotics.  They have long been used to replace intestinal flora after using anti-biotics as treatment for infections, but now research shows that they can be taken as a supplement to aid in immunity. This combination is clinically proven to reduce the incidence, duration, intensity and symptoms of viral infections. Probiotics are  microorganisms that work closely with the human body to convert nitrogen, break down waste and convert lactose to lactic acid. The simplest way of putting it is that these good bacteria help the body to keep the bad ones at bay.

It is important to note that not all probiotics address the immune system and you should be quite specific about your product choice. One example of a patented clinically proven formula for the prevention of viral infections is a combination containing Lactobacillus Plantarum HEAL9 and Lactobacillus Paracasei 8700:20. These clinical trials show that they are an excellent preventative measure against viral infections. The trials further reveal that if taken consistently the severity of the illness is significantly decreased.

For parents battling with the endless cycle that is creche syndrome, it is recommened that they deal with the cause and try probiotics to strengthen the immune system of the child.  

(Issued on behalf of Colban, a chewable probiotic tablet to help the human body fight the common cold.)

(Health24, May 2012)

Read more:
Choosing the right daycare for your child


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