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Viral illnesses are typical this time of year

We’ve started off 2014 in the throes of a lot of viral illness. This is typical, with January and February being notorious months for the peak of flu, RSV and common colds.

Despite the historic statistics, my patients, their parents and even my friends continue to ask, “Why is everyone sick?” and “Why do my kids get sick so often? This can’t be normal!”

One thing continues to be true: Young kids do get sick quite often during the toddler years. That means a “normal” toddler may get seven to 10 viral infections in a year, with the majority of these occurring during the fall and winter months. Infants who are still being carried don’t get sick as often, but once they hit the ground crawling, I can almost guarantee a trip or two to the pediatrician for fever, cough, runny nose and congestion.

By the time a child is walking or is 12 to 24 months old, their “germ” load is at its peak. I lovingly call this age group “little germ,” while some parents refer to their kids as “petri dishes.”

Parents often ask me, “How do I keep my toddler from catching so many illnesses?” One way you keep your child healthy is by immunizing them against all of the diseases you can! Vaccines continue to prevent serious diseases and illnesses like meningitis, hepatitis, measles and polio, just to name a few. Vaccines do not protect against the common cold, however.

In truth, children often get sick with many viral illnesses during their toddler years. Everyone has to go through this stage. By the time children are 3 to 4, you’ll definitely notice that they don’t get sick as often.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a pediatrician. Submit questions at