According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, children who washed their hands with sanitiser instead of soap missed less school, suffered fewer respiratory infections and antibiotic prescriptions.
Recruiting 911 three-year-old children from 24 day care centres in Spain, researchers divided the participants into three groups. The first group used hand sanitiser, the second used soap and water while the remaining volunteers followed their usual hand-washing routine.
The first two groups were under strict hygiene protocols - required to wash their hands before and after lunch, when they got home, after coughing, sneezing or blowing their noses.
Over eight months, 5211 respiratory infections were recorded, resulting in 5186 missed days. According to the findings, the group using hand sanitiser were best off: missing 3.25 per cent of days of day care. Meanwhile, the soap and water group missed 3.9 per cent while those going about their usual business missed 4.2 per cent of days.
Interestingly, washing with soap and water saw a 21 per cent increase in risk of contracting a respiratory infection, including runny noses, congestion, coughing and sore throat. They were also 31 per cent more likely to be prescribed antibiotics than those using hand sanitiser.
"I think that the main contribution of this paper is its focus on really young children in day care," says chief medical and scientific officer emeritus at the Institute of Healthcare ImprovementDr. Don Goldmann, speaking to abc15.
"I think this does build on previous literature to support the notion that you can reduce the spread of respiratory tract infections in really young kids if you use alcohol hand sanitiser."
Although not part of the study, Goldman suggests the study lacks details about implementing the program.
"If you were in the Bronx in New York and wanted to implement this program, you probably would need to contact the investigators to understand the specifics of what they did and how they did it," continues Goldmann.
You might also like: