Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keeping Our Children Happy and Healthy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keeping Our Children Happy and Healthy

Article excerpt

Byline: By Deaborah Johnson

The new school year is almost here again. But as if parents don't have enough to worry about with buying new blazers, books and bags, the health of their children is another weight on their mind.

Issues such as the spread of head lice, nutrition in school meals, not to mention injections like the controversial MMR jab, are just some of the problems parents have to consider when their children start full-time education.

Sandra Tait, school nurses manager at Sunderland School Health Service, is keen to emphasise the role played by public health nurses.

"From September, we will respond to the needs of a particular school instead of providing a routine service. Those children with needs will be targeted," she explains.

Parents need not be too concerned about their child being overlooked, as the cursory checks of all children will continue.

However, a problem that nurses have not dealt with for some years is head lice.

The notorious `nit nurse' has gone, with the onus now being placed on parents to tackle the problem. Although leaflets and information are provided, mums and dads are urged to do their own wet combing and head inspections.

Sandra explains: "We simply don't have the time to check every child's head. Plus, we have much greater medical training than only looking for head lice."

It is these public health nurses who provide immunisation in schools. Although some parents are wary of vaccination, particularly given the MMR controversy, Sandra and her team fully endorse preventative jabs.

"By immunising children, the public as a whole are being protected. I would urge parents to consider the consequences of not having the jabs. By having them, children are being protected against very serious, even fatal, diseases.

"Until any danger from this vaccine is proved, I would recommend parents give protection to their children," she adds.

Parents are equally inclined to be concerned about nutrition. Recent worrying statistics suggest that almost one in five children are overweight, and memories of stodgy school dinners cause many parents to associate the two. …

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