Could well-child visits actually be making kids sick?

Although routine well-child visits are a crucial part of preventative pediatric healthcare, they may lead to subsequent clinic visits for influenza-like symptoms, according to a study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis using data from more than 84,500 families that visited a physician office or clinic between 1996 and 2008, including more than 23,000 well-child visits and more than 97,200 visits for flu-like symptoms.

The analysis revealed families attending a well-child visit saw a 3.17 percentage point increase in the probability of a second visit for flu-like symptoms within two weeks of the initial visit.

The percentage increase may seem small, but the researchers point out it has major implications.

"Although this risk is relatively small, the number of well-child visits on a national level is not," according to the study. "We estimate 778,974 potentially avoidable [visits for flu-like symptoms] for a total economic burden of more than half a billion dollars in 2008."

To enhance infection prevention and potentially limit subsequent flu-like illness visits, the study authors suggest improving hand hygiene compliance, environmental cleaning and disinfecting and cough etiquette. The study also suggests considering decreasing the number of well-child visits scheduled during peak influenza season.



More articles on the flu:
Seasonal flu vaccine protects against avian flu
Flu season not over yet, CDC data shows
Flu continues to decline but mortality remains above epidemic threshold

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