The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a food label to tell consumers that the producer of the food meets certain standards. Some multi-ingredient products with USDA Organic labels specify which ingredients have been certified organic according to the USDA standards. The standard for use of the USDA Organic label requires that the producer not use synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering. To enforce the standards, the USDA inspects the production of foods that use the label.
Food labeled USDA Organic may or may not be healthful. There is no evidence that foods are necessarily less healthful if grown with synthetic fertilizers or properly aged sewage sludge. Irradiation of food kills germs. No radiation remains in the foods. Foods produced by genetic engineering may grow better and produce quality product sooner than if the producer waited to select plants from natural mutations. How a food is grown and packaged is not the only way to decide whether the food is healthful. The time between picking and selling foods can affect the quality of any food. Contamination or improper storage of any food may occur on the way from harvest to the seller.
This pest control website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes an extensive list of pest management resources, with special materials about Integrated Pest Management in child care as well as handouts to download and distribute to parents and staff about the effect of pesticides on children. Reviewed and reaffirmed 3/2018.
This one page fact sheet gives general information about managing poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac in young children for parents and caregivers. Reviewed and reaffirmed 4-2019.
See the online (most recently updated) version of Caring for Our Children, 4th edition for the national stanards related to cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces in child care settings. Details about how to select a sanitizer and disinfectant are in Appendix J. The table that lists Routine Schedule for Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting is in Appendix K . Reviewed and reaffirmed 5/2019.
Adults know that electronic gadgets with screens entertain young children. Handing a cell phone to a child in a grocery store can make shopping easier. However, adults should focus learning with language rich, socially interactive opportunities for the child to learn about what is in the store.
Screen experiences from TV, smartphones, computers and tablets do not promote personality development. Real world social interactions are necessary. Screen devices substitute viewing images for exploration of the environment. While children can learn something from what they see and hear on screen devices, they learn more easily from interactions with people and objects they can see, touch and manipulate. The bottom line is that screen time for young children should be limited to provide more opportunity for play and learning in the real world. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children less than 2 years of age should have NO screen time.*
Zero-to-Three published guidelines for use of screen devices in 2014.** The guidelines reviewed the research findings, the implications and limits to place on use of screen devices. For example, Zero-to-Three reported that, on average, children less than 3 years old are exposed to more than 5 hours of background TV. This exposure has a negative effect on the children’s development of language and other brain functions. It reduces the quality and quantity of play that is vital to learning.
Since 1986, conference workshops, professional journal articles, manuals, national standards, and sample forms have described the risk to an unborn child if a pregnant mother is exposed to certain infections that commonly spread in groups of young children. Employers of female early education staff of child-bearing age should educate their staff members about this risk. They should urge them to discuss with their health care providers how to reduce their risk.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the infections that pose a risk to an unborn child. CMV is a common infection among young children, usually without symptoms. Between 30% and 70% of children less than 3 years of age in child care excrete the virus in their urine, saliva and blood at any one time. Excretion of the virus may occur intermittently for years after the first infection. Women who work in child care may or may not be immune to the strains of CMV infecting children in their care. If a woman has her first CMV infection while pregnant, or has a CMV infection with a different strain than the one she had previously, her unborn child is more likely to be infected.
In utero (congenital) CMV infection occurs in only 1% of live births. However, CMV is the most common viral infection of babies before they are born and the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. About 10% of the CMV-infected babies have some symptoms or signs at birth. Those who do may have devastating multi-organ damage. These include poor growth, liver damage, brain damage, hearing loss, blindness, underdeveloped brains and developmental delay. About half of infants who have some symptoms of CMV at birth develop hearing loss from damaged nerves that are needed to carry sound sensations to the brain from the ear. About 15% of those who are infected but have no symptoms of CMV infection at birth develop this type of hearing loss as they grow older. In many children, the degree of hearing loss is progressive.
Nurses who conscientiously practice recommended hand hygiene don't get CMV infections from their CMV infected patients at a higher rate than other women. Teachers/caregivers of groups of young children could similarly reduce their risk by practicing hand hygiene after every contact with urine, saliva or blood. However, achieving this level of hand hygiene is challenging in group care. Teachers/caregivers have contact with more than one drooling child at a time, and frequently touch saliva coated toys or other surfaces. They change diapers or soiled underwear for children in their group multiple times a day.
At the least, women who teach groups of young children need to know how to reduce the risk if they might become or are pregnant. When properly informed, they can consider three options: 1) be very careful about practicing hand hygiene, 2) decide to provide care for preschool or older children instead of infants and toddlers when pregnancy is possible, or 3) choose to work in settings where they have less risk of contact with body secretions of young children.
Employers should explain CMV and other common occupational health risks verbally pre-employment. The information should be in an employee handbook given to each staff member, and discussed at a staff meeting at least once a year. It is best practice to use a Staff Health Assessment form that lists the common occupational risks. The list may prompt the health care provider who completes the form to assess and discuss these risks. Many health care professionals are unaware of the tasks performed by women whose work involves close contact with groups of young children. A list of these occupational risks is in Caring for Our Children, Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, and in Model Child Care Health Policies. Each of these publications has a sample Staff Health Assessment Form too.
Teach early education staff members about each of their occupational risks. Then have them sign a statement acknowledging the teaching received, that they understand and know how to reduce each risk, and that with this knowledge, they accept the risks.