Children receiving child care outside the home are at greater risk of upper respiratory infection, but whether parents of those children are also at increased risk is undocumented. We describe the incidence of 2 or more respiratory symptoms in the previous 2 weeks among 185 mothers of children 3 years of age or younger by child care use.


Mothers in Michigan and Nebraska were interviewed by phone regarding respiratory symptoms, use of outside child care (for an index child), sleeping habits, and demographic information.


Nearly one half (46.5%) reported 2 or more symptoms during the past 2 weeks; 15.1% had contacted a health care provider and 13.0% spent 1 or more days in bed because of their symptoms, which lasted an average of 5.5 days. Prevalence of symptoms was invariant to sociodemographic characteristics. Mothers using outside child care (74.6%) were twice as likely as those without outside care to have been ill in the past 2 weeks (odds ratio: 2.26; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.12,4.54). Most mothers (69.2%) reported having their sleep interrupted by their children at least once in the last 2 weeks or sharing a bed with a child part or all of the night (61.1%); 25.4% slept 6 hours or less nightly. Women reporting that they rarely or never felt rested (26.5%) were 2.65 times more likely to be ill (95% CI: 1.26,5.55), compared with those reporting that they frequently or always felt rested (46.5%), after adjusting for any outside child care.


Future studies should focus on risk factors that can be modified to reduce illness among both children and their parents.

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