Hand sanitizer more successful than soap, water for preventing respiratory infections in kids, study finds

Kids who clean their hands using hand sanitizer instead of traditional soap and water contract fewer respiratory infections, miss fewer school days and receive less antibiotics, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

Here are three things to know:

1. Researchers conducted the study by analyzing data they obtained through surveilling sanitation habits of 911 children, ages 3 and under, who attended 24 child care centers in Almeria, Spain. 

2. Researchers split the children into three hand hygiene groups. One group used hand sanitizer, one used soap and water and a control group followed the center's routine hand-washing protocols. Both intervention groups also received education on proper hand hygiene techniques. 

3. The soap and water group had a 21 percent higher risk of contracting a respiratory infection than the group who used hand sanitizer. The soap and water group also saw a 31 percent increase in antibiotic prescription use, according to USA Today

4. The child care centers using hand sanitizer paired with educational measures saw a reduction in absent days, RIs and antibotic prescprtions for infections. 

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