Family Health: Hand-Washing Lessons in Schools Could Decrease Sick Days, Says Study

Photography by Michelle M via Flickr (CC)

How many days did your children miss school last year due to illness? It can be hard to avoid—when one child comes to school sick, it’s not long before there are runny noses everywhere you look. But a new study claims that teaching kids about proper hand hygiene may be the key to decreasing sick days, according to a report by Science Daily.

The study, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, involved 656 students (split between two schools) in Denmark, ages 5-15. One school was the “control school,” while the other was the “intervention school.” In the intervention school, it was mandatory for kids to disinfect their hands three times during the school day. Absences due to sickness were recorded. In a follow-up study, the two schools switched places (the “control” became the “intervention” and vice versa) and the data was recorded again. In the three months that the study was conducted, researchers noted a 66 percent decrease in students with four or more absent days, as well as an increase in the number of students with no absences.

“Regular training in HW (hand washing) and HD (hand disinfection) would be a simple, low cost action with very significant impact on reducing infectious illness absence periods among pupils,” said the study’s author, Inge Nandrup-Bus, RN, according to a news release.

Do you think that kids should be taught about proper hygiene and hand washing in schools? Should hand washing and disinfection (with hand sanitizers) be mandatory?

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