Babies in crèches twice as likely to get ill as those in home based care
BABIES in crèches are twice as likely to get ill as those in home based care.
Infants in creches were 2.5 times more likely to have had a chest infection and twice as likely to have had an ear infection, a major new study has shown.
There was not much difference in health risks between babies cared for at home by their parents or in the homes of relatives or childminders.
The Growing Up in Ireland survey studied the families of 11,000 nine-month-old babies.
It found that 40pc were in non-parental childcare by that age, with mothers on low incomes most likely to be back at work.
Some 42pc of these children were cared for by relatives, 31pc by childminders, and 27pc were in crèches.
Relatives were more often the childminders for low income families.
The study found that many people caring for babies did not have childcare qualifications.
Qualifications were higher among crèche workers but these were still relatively low.
However there were more books - an important indicator of the learning environment - in crèches than in home based care settings.
The study showed few mothers returned to work before six months.
Early returners tended to be self employed and young mothers.
Highly educated mothers were more likely to return to work than lower earners but only after maternity leave ended.
Childrens Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the report provides valuable information on childcare choices.
The study was carried out by Wconomic and Social Research Institute and Trinity College researchers.