Impact of an Environmental Hygiene Intervention on Illness and Microbial Levels in Child Care Centers
Committee ChairLebowitz, Michael
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPathogens on surfaces in child care centers can contribute to illness among attendees and may thereby contribute to medical visits as well. This intervention study was conducted to assess the effect of using specific sanitizing products and cleaning protocols in child care centers on the incidences of lower respiratory infections, diarrheal illness, antibiotic use, and medical visits among children attending the centers and on the levels and antibiotic resistance of indicator bacteria in those centers. During the ten-week study period, children from twelve centers were observed. Six of the centers were randomly assigned to the intervention. The other six were controls. Intervention centers were given cleaning protocols and sanitizing products. Control centers were asked to retain their original procedures and products.Acute illness was determined from records kept by the center directors and telephone calls made to parents of ill children. A call was also made to one randomly selected healthy child's parents for every two ill children recorded. Parents were given a questionnaire requesting information including bedroom sharing status, environmental tobacco smoke exposure, and chronic illnesses.After controlling for within-center clustering and zero-inflation, statistically non-significant trends of reduction were seen in the weeks of lower respiratory infections, diarrheal illness, and medical visits. Multivariable zero-inflated Poisson regression revealed that the number of weeks intervention center children were using antibiotics was 32% lower than among the control center children. This was a statistically significant reduction (95% CI = 0.54-0.86; p = 0.001).Bacterial samples were collected from ten sites within each center at the beginning and the end of the study period to determine the effect of the intervention on the microbial population. The study determined the heterotrophic plate count bacteria numbers and the rates of resistance to ampicillin and cephalothin. Neither heterotrophic bacterial concentrations nor antibiotic resistance rates significantly changed over the course of the study.