Daycare could be harmful to children

Parents who send their children to daycare could be harming their kids as a result. This is the suggestion of a new report entitled Who Cares? Mothers, Daycare and Child Wellbeing in New Zealand, which found 70 to 80 per cent of youngsters who attend such facilities have raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

According to the investigation - commissioned by Family First New Zealand and compiled by Dr Aric Sigman, a Society Fellow and Fellow of the Society of Biology - this increase can be harmful to a young person's immune system.

The study found separation from parents in this manner can serve as a significant source of stress for little ones.

Dr Sigman explained that although the findings may make for uncomfortable reading, they must not be ignored, adding: "Emphasising the possible negative implications in keeping with our tradition of a principle of precaution is justified and prudent."

Dr Richard Woolfson, a Chartered Psychologist, said: "Individual studies might sometimes cast doubt on the effect that day care can have on child development. The overall picture to emerge from research, however, is that attendance at daycare or nursery typically has a very positive influence on children when that day care is high quality.

"For instance, well qualified staff, a planned programme of support and stimulation, hygienic and modern equipment, individualised record keeping, and parent involvement.

"It's up to each parent to check this out for themselves, but once they have done this, they can be reasonably confident their child will thrive emotionally, cognitively and socially in the preschool placement."