Nursery May Make Children Healthier

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 9, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Nursery May Make Children Healthier


Byline: JOHN VON RADOWITZ

CHILDREN who go to nursery school could be reducing their chances of developing childhood leukaemia, say scientists.

United States researchers say that mixing with other youngsters may stimulate a small child's immune system to tackle infection at an early age. It is thought that childhood leukaemia could be caused by a rare immune response to common infections. Delaying exposure to infection could result in an underdeveloped immune system which produces cancerous blood cells when faced with the barrage of infections to which a child is exposed in later life.

Findings from an investigation into nursery attendance and leukaemia incidence appear to support the theory.

Scientists in California studied 140 children, aged one to 14, who were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia between 1995 and 1999. Detailed data on nursery attendance was collected through questionnaires and interviews with parents. The same information was obtained about children randomly selected from the California birth registry.

A statistical analysis was then carried out to look for any relationship between nursery attendance and leukaemia rates.

The scientists found that extensive contact with other children in a nursery was significantly associated with a lower likelihood of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Starting nursery at a younger age, attending for a longer duration and having contact with a high number of children all contributed to reducing the risk.

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