Local pediatrician advises parents on healthy habits before start of school year

Local News

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Many parents and students are gearing up to start another year of school this week, and there are some things you may want to keep in mind.

A local doctor is reminding parents of what to look out for as their kids head back into the classroom and share more than just what they did over the summer.

Dr. Sufana Zafar from Geisinger Pediatrics said one way kids can avoid missing any time at school due to sickness is simply wash your hands.

According to a study done by the National Science Foundation, the top 5 “Germiest Places in School” include reusable plastic lunch trays and faucets in the bathrooms.

Zafar said part of the problem with keeping kids healthy is proper hand washing habits, and suggested singing a little song to help young ones get all the germs off their hands and maybe have some fun while doing it.

“A lot of kids, including mine, just kind rub the soap on and they’re done. What I tell them is that ‘You want to be rubbing your hands and rubbing the soap in really well and sing happy birthday three times before rinsing the soap off’,” she said.

Dr. Zafar added an important step to protecting your kids from certain illnesses, such as the flu, is keeping them up-to-date on vaccinations.

The US Center for Disease Control reports that elementary school students can get up to 12 colds during the school years.

When coming back to school after an extended time away, whether it be summer vacation or holiday break, Dr. Zatar said kids are more prone to get sick.

“I think certainly there’s more viral infections sort of in the fall and winter, but probably it’s because they been at home all summer, and suddenly they’re back in school and around a whole lot of people, so there’s just more exposure, causing more spread of infections,” she said.

Dr. Zafar added good sleeping habits are important for the school year. She suggested parents make sure your kids have a bedtime and get 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night, so they can be ready to focus and learn the next day.

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