Will taking your healthy child to the doctor make them sick?

Headline:  Taking your healthy kids to the doctor may make them sick

That’s certainly an attention grabbing headline. I’m not sure if it does us much good, however.

Girl holding a medical scope

Image source: Thinkstock

Taking your healthy children to school or daycare or the grocery store or the jump-house may also make them sick. As a matter of fact, any public exposure during cough and cold season is a risk factor for getting sick. I have to wonder if the rates of flu-like illness are the same or even higher for healthy children who spend an hour at the local fast food playscape.

Does this mean we should stop taking our young children to the doctor for their well checks? Absolutely not!

Well-child checks are a crucial part of preventive health care for children. It’s the time when you and your doctor get to discuss everything from weight gain and growth to normal motor and language development, toilet training, sleep habits and school readiness. It’s also the time when we give vaccines to prevent illnesses like pertussis (whooping cough), measles and chicken pox.

So what do we do with this information?

I think we do what we’ve been doing all along. We reduce the risk of getting sick by controlling the things we can control. We wash hands. We cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze and teach our children to do the same.

Here at The Austin Diagnostic Clinic, we make sure to provide infection control methods to take care of our patients. In my office at Steiner Ranch, we have waiting areas designated for well children and sick children. In the waiting area we have a gorgeous fish tank to look at, but no communal toys that can easily pass germs from one child to the next. Next to every exam room we have antimicrobial foam, and you will see me rubbing my hands together as I walk into the room because I use that foam before I knock on every door. Inside the room we have tissues and a sink with soap and paper towels so that we can blow noses and wash hands whenever we need to.

Between visits our nurses wipe down all the surfaces and any toys that have been handled. We also try to keep the well babies separated from the sick children by scheduling their appointments at lower patient traffic times and rooming them in the Well Baby room.

We do everything we can to keep your children well because it is our goal to see every child grow up healthy and happy. And of course, a big part of that is making sure we get to see your child for his or her well child check ups.

Read the story that inspired this response here.


  1. Chris Castoro says:

    Way to refute bad advice, Doctor Willis!