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Getting Answers: Does Staying Home More Have An Impact On Kids' Immune Systems?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Kids are known for being germy and never shying away from a mess, especially in the classroom. So as distance learning and social distancing measures continue, could it have any impacts on their immune systems?

Months into spending more time at home, Disha and Manoj Mittal have noticed a difference in their kids' health.

"My daughter was sick only once, and she was only sick for two days," Disha Mittal said.

Her kids were getting sick far less, and she was okay with that. But it's a cause for concern to other parents, like Amy Bush.

"We're supposed to be exposed to other people," Bush said. "We're not supposed to be disinfecting everything."

Many other parents feel the same way. They're worried about their kids' immune systems, especially when they're not in daycare or a classroom.

READ: Learning Curve: Elementary School Band Refuses To Miss A Beat During Pandemic

That's what prompted CBS13 to ask UC Davis' pediatric infectious disease expert, Dr. Dean Blumberg if staying at home for months and avoiding germs hurt kids more than help them. The answer is, theoretically yes, but he believes it won't harm kids in the long run.

"It's theoretically possible, but there are so many germs out there we're all exposed to all the time," Dr. Blumberg said.

His team says early data shows kids are less sick than usual this year and avoiding many respiratory-related illnesses. But he believes that's good, not bad, and won't have any long term impacts.

"This isn't going to go on forever," Dr. Blumberg said. "These children will go back to school and go back to daycare and still have opportunities for exposure."

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He chalks up the decrease in illnesses to more social distancing and mask-wearing. But he also says despite all the safety measures, we're still exposed to bacteria that may live in nature and dirt.

As for parents like Disha and Manoj, when their kids are itching for a day at the park, they go.

"It's going to be hard to live in a bubble, you know," Manoj Mittal said.

As a family, still hoping to avoid catching any bugs, but strengthening their kids' immunity by playing around them.

As for illnesses that are less dangerous for kids to get at a younger age – like Hepatitis A or chickenpox? Dr. Blumberg recommends staying on top of vaccinations, which are highly effective against those diseases.

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