A new study assures us that a long list of recurring but less severe illnesses such as ear pain, bad cough or running nose is unlikely to affect the learning ability of your child. Even when one sick day leads to another, and collecting prescriptions at the pharmacy becomes a routine, parents need not worry that their children’s brains are affected or they are losing the ability to do well in school, said the study published in Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.
“Other studies have demonstrated that serious illnesses, for example severe infections such as measles, rubella or meningitis, which we vaccinate against, affect the brain and thereby the child’s ability to learn. From this we know that illnesses, and in particular infections, to some degree have an influence on our brains,” said researcher Ole Kohler-Forsberg from Aarhus University in Denmark. “In this study, we decided to look at how children perform following the less severe infections that many of them frequently experience during their childhood,” he added.
The study involved around 600,000 Danish children who were born between 1987 and 1997. The findings showed that a good number of sick days due to less severe infections whether five, ten or even fifteen prescriptions were picked up at the pharmacy during childhood had no significance for the child’s ability to complete primary and lower secondary school.
“On the other hand, we found that children who had been admitted to hospital as a result of severe infections had a lower chance of completing ninth grade. The decisive factor is therefore the severity of the disease, but not necessarily the number of sick days,” Kohler-Forsberg said. “The study ought to reassure those parents who find that their young children are often sick. Our findings indicate that as long as we ‘only’ have a case of less severe infections, and even though the child is definitely ill and requires medicine, the child’s cognitive development is not at risk,” he pointed out.