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Family health in Dubai

Did your nippers miss too much school last term due to catching every bug going?

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Did your nippers miss too much school last term due to catching every bug going? And is there anything parents can do about it? Dr Neil Fell, a family medicine expert from Dubai London Clinic, and Shirin Janoos, a dietitian at Health Factory, answer common parental queries

The doctor says:

We all want to prevent our kids from catching too many bugs. How can we minimize the chances, and will using more hand sanitizers in school actually help?
While good hygiene practices in terms of washing hands after play time and before you eat should always be observed as a matter of course, sending your child to school with hand sanitizer is probably a little over the top. First of all, there is no solid evidence to prove that using alcoholic hand cleansers actually prevent kids from getting germs. This is because you catch infections from all sorts of different sources – be it bugs in the air, on surfaces you touch, or through things you eat.

Furthermore, it’s perfectly normal for primary school aged kids to catch a large number of bugs, most of which can be classified as upper respiratory tract infections that aren’t serious. Of course, I’m not saying we should never clean – hygiene is important – but taking it too far isn’t a good idea either.

How important is sleep?
Sleep is a very important factor, and there is clear evidence to suggest that children who are sleep deprived can’t function properly at school academically, and may be prone to becoming more physically run down too. Considering young children of primary school age require approximately 11 to 12 hours’ sleep a night, it’s also probable that the vast majority of kids don’t actually get enough sleep.

I’d always suggest removing things like televisions or games consoles from the bedroom. They can be over- stimulating, and children will often be tempted to keep playing on them after lights out. Being consistent as a parent helps too. If you are trying to establish a routine, make sure you stick to it as much as possible.

There are so many kids’ vitamin supplements available. Which ones, if any, are useful?
I used to say, ‘as long as you have a healthy diet, you don’t need to bother with vitamin supplements.’ But over the years, that view has changed, mainly because I think it’s quite difficult for people to maintain a consistently healthy diet in this day and age. We are more reliant on processed foods due to our lifestyles, and even when we try our best to consume natural produce, it’s difficult to know exactly how much goodness it offers, due to modern food production techniques.

So, I would say vitamins do have a part to play – and taking a daily multi vitamin certainly won’t do you any harm. One vitamin many people are lacking in here (surprisingly enough) is vitamin D. This is due to the fact that we cover kids in sunblock whenever they go outside, which prevents 99 per cent of its absorption through the skin, and for much of the year, we tend to avoid the excessive heat by staying indoors. Vitamin D is a vital component when it comes to bone development, and there is also anecdotal evidence to suggest the lack of it can cause weakness, fatigue and joint pain too.

Time Out Dubai,

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