Do parents have to tell other parents about their kids' health? - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This thread piggybacks on my two other recent threads.

What responsibility do parents have to inform other parents about their children's health issues?

Does it matter whether the issue is major (such as Hepatitis) or minor (such as a cold)? Does it matter whether there is an large risk of transmission (such as pink eye) or a small risk (such as HIV)? Does it matter whether it's a stigmatized illness or a non-stigmatized one?

One of the playgroup moms who voted me out stated that we have all kept our kids home from playgroup because of something as simple as a cold, and since worms are more serious, I should expect to keep my child home because of them. (They were already treated, but that's beside the point.) Aside from the fact that I don't mind my children playing with a child with a cold, worms are rather difficult to transmit from one child to another.

But I'm not asking about my specific situation, I'm asking in general: under what circumstances, if any, do you feel that the parents of your child's friends should be informed of your child's health issues?

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#2 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 11:28 AM
 
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If THEIR child will be in direct contact w/ your child... then they need to know what's up.
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#3 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 11:34 AM
 
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I'm a big fan of people being able to make informed decisions. So when my DS has a tough cold and a friend calls to get the kids together I usually tell her and let her make the decision whether her child can play with mine or not. But that's only because a cold can be easily transmitted and there is no stigma attatched to it. When it comes to less transmittable diseases, and especially ones where a stigma is attached, I'm in support of the family protecting itself. I would let people know as they became close friends, but I wouldn't disclose HIV or Hep status while playing with neighbourhood moms and babes at the park. Or worms or anything else that has a near zero chance of being transferred to another child.

Chicken pox? Lol, in my group we are all hoping our kids get it so I'd disclose that and then we'd all be trying to figure out when our kids last played together to see if it was during the infectious stage.

Pink eye's trickier for me because I've gotten it a couple of times during shelter work and I'm always afraid I'll get it again. It just sucks to have it. I'd be wiggy trying to avid getting it if it were my own child, so if my child had pink eye I'd keep him away from friends and let people around him know so they can wash their hands, and any surfaces he touches etc. But pink high is highly contagious (all I did both times was pick up a babe and a child with it) and I think on the highly contagious stuff people get to make informes decisions to be around me or my child.
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#4 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 11:40 AM
 
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I posted the other threads and the stuff about obligation just doesn’t apply to my world. I thought it was so strange on the HIV thread that so many people said, “You wouldn’t know in the first place.” I have only a small group of parent friends and we talk about our kids, health and stuff quite a bit. So, I would know if a child friend had some illness.

I’m sure we also give a heads up if our child (ren) is sick just incase the other family (s) want to avoid us. We also tend to call if our child gets sick after we’ve just been together to let the parents know it may be coming. None of this is an obligation…we just talk about everything.

With new friends, no, I don’t think there is an obligation to tell me anything unless their kid had Ebola or something. So, I guess I’m a yes if there’s a large risk of transmission AND the illness is serious. I would, however, think that as we got close (I don’t have many casual friends) we would just want to talk about it, yk?

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#5 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 11:43 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama
Does it matter whether the issue is major (such as Hepatitis) or minor (such as a cold)? Does it matter whether there is an large risk of transmission (such as pink eye) or a small risk (such as HIV)? Does it matter whether it's a stigmatized illness or a non-stigmatized one?
For me, it's the risk of trasmission that I'd want to know about. I could care less about colds being passed back and forth, but if it's something more serious, and the other Mom know's her kid has something highly contagious, I think it's fair to let the other parents know. I also think it's good manners to stay home that week if your child has somthing that is communicable.
If someone has a child with a illness that is low risk of transmission, I don't feel like they have to disclose that to me unless they want to.
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#6 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 11:59 AM
 
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I have always made a point to inform other parents of ANY illness before hand. But I actually never thought about what I would do with an issue as complex as say HIV or hepatitis. I would want to be very upfront with other parents, but I am sure there is alot of things to consider. Such as, the type of intraction between the children(wrestling vs playing follow the leader at the park), also the amount of stigma and the impact it would have on my child. If my child had HIV I would probably not shout it from the roof tops, but would keep it on a need to know basis only, for fear of how my child would be treated.
I don't know, that's a toughie, alot of variables.
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#7 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 12:09 PM
 
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These moms clearly don't have kids in daycare or school yet!

One thing I was thinking was that we aren't informed about the health of everyone we encounter day to day. I mean at some point you're going to have to let your kids mix with the "unwashed masses."

On the other hand, Children under two are at increased risk of a lot of things, so I can kinda understand it.

I'd say Yes, I'd keep my child away and/or inform:
Pink eye
Gastroenteritis
LICE!
Hep A + B
Oral herpes- kids can get this from adults
Very contagious cold- like the first day of a cold
Chicken pox?
I can't think of any other that seem likely.

Otherwise it's your business, IMO. As for HIV- if the kids won;t be having sex or shotting drugs i think it's no one's business but your own.
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#8 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 12:43 PM
 
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I have a very good friend who lives just steps from my door and who has a son the same age as my daughter. Obviously, we see a lot of each other. When one of our kids is sick with anything contagious (a cold, a stomach bug), we always tell each other and offer the chance to either avoid each other that day or do something in a more ventilated area than one of our houses. In warmer weather, we'll opt for a walk outside (until now, with the kids in strollers and talking but NOT touching). Being upfront and cautious about this has been even more important since both of us (moms) are pregnant, and I've been sick on and off for almost 2 months.

The only time I told people about something that had almost no chance of affecting them was when rumors and paranoia were really flowing in the world, and I didn't want to appear dishonest. DH, DD, and I went to Toronto during the height of the SARS scare. We didn't visit any hospitals or health care settings (which were the ONLY places SARS had been spread in Toronto), but I felt that it was only fair to tell DD's daycare where we went on our vacation. Fortunately, the daycare owner understood that we had not been in any high-risk areas and didn't ask us to stay home for any time after the trip, but if she had, I would have done it as long as I didn't have to pay for the time missed. My own parents refused to see us for 3 weeks after we returned from Toronto. I thought that was moronic, but I respected it. We have the right to be paranoid, I guess.

I think that giving people all the information they need to make their own decisions, even if they aren't the decisions I would make, is only fair.
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#9 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 02:47 PM
 
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I want to know about things that are easily communicable (such as colds, strep throat, pink eye, etc) but things that are a low risk of being spread I don't think are my business. Of course I am assuming that if Haley or Max had playdates where I was present I would be friends with the parents and we would know if a child had HIV or something like that (not b/c they wouldn't be allowed to play with them but b/c friends share things about their lives and opffer support to one another) Schools, preschools and daycares don't have the right to ask if a child is HIV and I don't think I do either.

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#10 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 02:50 PM
 
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If it is a non-stigmatized, highly transmissable health issue, then yes. I always tell people when my dd has a cold for example.

If it is a highly stigmatized, low risk of transmission, hysteria surrounded health issue, then no.
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#11 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 03:11 PM
 
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I'd want to know if there is a risk of trasmission and I would make my choices based on the information given and the research that I do personally.
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#12 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 05:12 PM
 
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Having a small daycare, I have had my share of illnesses through the house. I think that if your child has something that is possible to transmit to another child then it is your responsibility to let other parents know before having your child near their child. Something that may seem trivial to you can be extremely serious to a child who has health problems. (my nephew could die if he gets ill because of a heart defect) Some illnesses like scabies and lice are extremely difficult to get rid of. Besides if your child made another child very sick wouldn't you have liked to have prevented it??
But, I don't think a child' s HIV status is anyones business. They've got enough to deal with.
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#13 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 07:53 PM
 
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If it's a disease that can be transmitted (no matter how unlikely that is) then I feel I have the right to be informed. How else can I make an informed decision about whether or not to expose my child to that?

If it's something that can NOT be transmitted (like heart disease, cancer, etc) then no, there's no need to tell everyone.
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#14 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 08:01 PM
 
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My friends and I keep each other up to speed pretty much with what's going on with our kids. If we have a playdate set up, and DS is sick, I'll call the other parent(s) and let them know and vice-versa. Because most of us are SAHMs, if it's nothing serious, like just a cold, we'll keep the playdate...we're actually all looking for a bit more germ exposure to beef up the kiddo's immune systems.

Generally, if DS had something communicable, I would absolutely tell the other parents and let them make their own decisions for a few reasons...first, it's not my job to decide what level of risk is acceptable for their child and their family, it's their decision and I'll give them the facts and leave it in their judgment; second, there may be something I don't know about someone's health status...if they have a compromised immune system they NEED to know if my DC is sick.

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#15 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 08:24 PM
 
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I always try to be proactively protective. If my child has the same signs that the health department uses to exclude kids from daycare (being a former preschool/toddler teacher, it's something that was drilled into me for so long it's an easy reference), then I keep them home. If I spot another child with those signs whose parent has brought them to a playgroup, I am annoyed, but I do keep hand sanitizer and stuff like that in my bag anyway, so we will just wash hands and use that afterwards.

If I found out that someone was hiding a chronic and potentially dangerous to others condition, I would probably drop them as a friend, because I don't like dishonesty. If they hide that, then obviously they don't care for me as a friend much either--and I don't really feel like investing in someone who automatically assumes the worst of me. By the same token, I would feel obligated to inform others if my child had a chronic and contagious disease. If people felt the need to drop my family from their life, then that's their loss. If somebody harrassed me and my family, welp, I know how to use that against them and if they wanted to try and complicate my life I would have no qualms about making theirs just as difficult. I guess I am pretty NON-gentle in that regard.

Since I am not a very social person by nature, generally when I spend time with people or a group of people, it's because I like them and consider them to be trustworthy. If I don't feel comfortable telling them about an important health issue, then frankly they're not worth my time. I know that sounds cold, but I guess I'm a pretty cold person. It is a pretty big effort and energy for me to be social, so I only do it with people I like and trust (and even then probably not as much as I should), so it's not a problem for me to be open and honest.

Come to think of it, I'm a pretty poor friend. I get easily overwhelmed socially, and while I love many people a great deal, I never seem to get around to doing all the stuff I intend to do with them. So I don't have anything to "hide" really, for fear that I or my family would be shunned. That "punishment" isn't.

So...no, I don't think you HAVE to tell. I think whether you choose to or not reflects your judgement of that particular person or group. If they are distant and not your friends, then why bother? It's not worth explaining or setting down boundaries if you're never going to see them again. But if these are people that you consider your friends, then why WOULDN'T you tell, if for no other reason that you want to protect their kids from getting flu from yours, or because you need the love and support of your mama friends and their families over a long term illness? Dunno if that makes sense, but those are my thoughts.
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#16 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 08:36 PM
 
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I always give other moms the heads up and then let them decide. Whether it is just the sniffle or its full grown tummy bug I always say something. My feeling is it not for me to choose. I do the same with school. If there is even hint of something contagious in my son I keep him home. I wish others did the same. One child gave the entire class pink eye. The mom said "well her two older brothers had it all week. I guess I was just hoping it would skip her."

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#17 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 08:46 PM
 
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If your kids are playing with mine you bet your butt I wanna know what germs there carrying so I can decide if its something we want to risk. Would I let dd play with a kid with HIV? sure, A kid with the common cold? No way! If its easy to transmit, we'll wait a week to play with you dd had immune deficiency issues (technically still does but gets enough antibodies from me that her system *looks* normal as long as she nurses enough) and used to land in the hospital for darn near everything because parents thought it was no big deal to bring there kid with a little cold to play. That little cold could put a kid with a compromised immune system in the hospital. I dont expect parents to live in a bubble but I do expect them to tell me if there kid is sick.

Seriously?
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#18 of 28 Old 02-13-2005, 10:32 PM
 
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I don't really expect parents to tell me, but that's just because I ask. And ask and ask and ask. My questioning goes something like this: "Because of my daughter's suppressed immune system, I need to know if there is any reason we should cancel today. Please think it through carefully, because she is extremely fragile and vulnerable." Once the conversation is begun I explain that I don't need them to tell me why if they decide that a playdate shouldn't happen - I don't need to pry, I just need to protect my daughter, you know?

I ask before every playdate and outing where we're supposed to me friends. And if I don't like what I see once I get there, I turn around and go home. The other day I left a pizza date because my friend's son's nose was running clear - a sign of a contagious cold. My close friends understand and forgive me these quirks but others have dropped us. I can live with that.

On the other hand, if I asked directly if we should cancel or postpone and found out later that disclosure was not made I would be royally pissed and wouldn't give second chances. If the parent was mature enough to tell the truth and have a frank discussion with me about an "hysteria" impacted condition we could probably work it out. If not today, then another time.
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#19 of 28 Old 02-14-2005, 03:36 AM
 
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No. Absolutely not. They do not HAVE to tell anyone anything about their kid's health. There are laws protecting the privacy of health stuff. You've all (I'm sure) signed HIPPA forms at the dr's office.

It is nice to let someone know that your kid is sick if you are going to be in contact with them. When we're sick, I send out an email to the other moms in our playgroup telling what's going on and whether we plan to be there. That way they can choose to come or not based on their kids' health. I hope they would do the same. But I would understand someone not telling me if, for example, their kid had hep b or HIV, two stigmatized diseases. And that's ok with me. I wouldn't be ok with my kids playing with the bodily fluids of anyone, known infected/contagious or not. Universal precautions, as was stated on the other thread, are used UNIVERSALLY. The idea is to assume everyone has a bloodborne, contagious, illness, and protect accordingly. My kids have played with sick kids and no doubt will do so again. Part of life. I refuse to do a health screen on everyone my family comes in contact with.

Dharmama, I'm so sorry you're having these probs with your playgroup. But it sure has spurred some good discussions here!

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#20 of 28 Old 02-18-2005, 04:08 AM
 
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I'm not sure if they have to, but I think it's nice to do...heck, when I was single and without a baby I always knew when my friends were sick (and they me) so we could hang out or not depending on how we felt about it...why not for kids?


Do have to make one comment on something: "The other day I left a pizza date because my friend's son's nose was running clear - a sign of a contagious cold."

It's also a sign of an allergy...for me it was eggs and dairy that caused a clear-running nose. Might want to let the parents know about that, it could help them with a lot of allergy problems later on to catch it now.
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#21 of 28 Old 02-18-2005, 12:23 PM
 
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I think its common courtesly to let me know if its something contagious. I would tell someone else if my child was contagious. I have two under the age of two and I find it to be highly inconsiderate for a family memeber to show up at my home sick. I work with children and theres always a risk that even if I dont catch it, I will carry it into other peoples homes so our agency employees the same criteria as the school, we arent coming if anyone in the house has had vomitting, fever or diarreah. And yet Im always amazed at how many people dont tell me until Im at thier door that three kids have strep throat or something! Then I have to explain why I cant come in. Some of the kids I work with are medically fragile and I and I cant be bringing germs into them!

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#22 of 28 Old 02-18-2005, 03:26 PM
 
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Everyone can keep everything else to themselves, but if people would please disclose their lice status my life would be better.
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#23 of 28 Old 02-18-2005, 04:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by monkaha
No. Absolutely not. They do not HAVE to tell anyone anything about their kid's health. There are laws protecting the privacy of health stuff. You've all (I'm sure) signed HIPPA forms at the dr's office.

It is nice to let someone know that your kid is sick if you are going to be in contact with them. When we're sick, I send out an email to the other moms in our playgroup telling what's going on and whether we plan to be there. That way they can choose to come or not based on their kids' health. I hope they would do the same. But I would understand someone not telling me if, for example, their kid had hep b or HIV, two stigmatized diseases. And that's ok with me. I wouldn't be ok with my kids playing with the bodily fluids of anyone, known infected/contagious or not. Universal precautions, as was stated on the other thread, are used UNIVERSALLY. The idea is to assume everyone has a bloodborne, contagious, illness, and protect accordingly. My kids have played with sick kids and no doubt will do so again. Part of life. I refuse to do a health screen on everyone my family comes in contact with.

Dharmama, I'm so sorry you're having these probs with your playgroup. But it sure has spurred some good discussions here!
Obviously, if ds2 was sick and I had a playgroup date, I'd either inform the members or cancel. And, if I knew a playmate had a compromised immune system, I'd make sure to tell the mom if ds2 had so much as a sniffle. However, other than common courtesy, I don't feel any obligation to let people know about my family's health. Not anyones business but ours.

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#24 of 28 Old 02-18-2005, 05:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fiddledebi
I think that giving people all the information they need to make their own decisions, even if they aren't the decisions I would make, is only fair.
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#25 of 28 Old 02-18-2005, 10:54 PM
 
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I let people know and let them make their own decisions. I don't take my children to MOPS when they are sick even with a cold - so I haven't been since beg of NOV. I will add also that clear runny nose may be allergies - I have a dd with allergies and while we figured them all out she had clear runny nose and hives for MONTHS>

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#26 of 28 Old 02-18-2005, 11:38 PM
 
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For those who wouldn't tell, right now my kiddo has a clear runny nose and a cough that sounds like it could be post nasal drip. (gets way worse at night) It looks like maybe she has allergies or a little cold. In reality she has RSV, a very nasty, highly contagious virus that sends many infants to the hospital. Would you prefer I didn't tell you she had it and let our kids play together because I thought it was none of your business?

Seriously?
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#27 of 28 Old 02-19-2005, 05:53 PM
 
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Out of respect for one another, my fellow moms and I give a heads up on any health issues, big or small. This also helps track each others kids illnesses. My son had a terrible cough/cold...then a week later, a friend's dd got what appeared to be the same thing. She called and we compared symtoms and remedies.
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#28 of 28 Old 02-19-2005, 06:52 PM
 
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If there is any chance that they are contagious, they had better share. If I suspect them of deliberately not sharing and/or covering up to expose my child to a yucky sickness, that is unacceptable. I would very quickly cut these folks out of our life and if my child was old enough I would tell them why.

My child's health and safety matter!!
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