Pediatricians’ New Germ-Control Advice: Bring Your Own Toys

As cold season and flu season settle in, many parents worry about taking children to the doctor’s office, and sitting in a waiting room full of sick children.

It’s well known that hospitals can be dangerous places for disease transmission; that’s why they have thorough infection control policies. But most pediatric medical care takes place in the office or the clinic. So on Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new policy statement, “Infection Prevention and Control in Pediatric Ambulatory Settings,” to help minimize the spread of germs in waiting rooms and exam rooms.

Much of what the policy recommends goes back to the essentials of preventing infections, like the importance of hand hygiene and immunizations. But specific advice for the waiting room includes bringing along a toy from home. Even if they are disinfected daily, as the policy advises, toys that multiple children handle in the waiting room may harbor germs, so the new statement suggests that parents pack their own.

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