Research shows upgraded equipment at child care centers improves health

July 06, 2007
Photograph of Dr. Jonathon Kotch

Photograph of Dr. Jonathon Kotch

Children and staff at child care centers stay healthier when better equipment is available for diaper-changing, hand-washing and food preparation, according to an article published this week in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Jonathan Kotch, MD, professor of maternal and child health at the School of Public Health, studied 46 child care centers in North Carolina. Half were provided $10,000 in equipment upgrades and half used existing equipment. Improved equipment included automatic faucets, foot-activated waste bins, and seamless polymer tabletop surfaces.

Even though staff in both groups received sanitation and hygiene training, staff and children in the centers with improved equipment stayed about 50% more healthy than those without it. (Children in the upgrade group averaged less than one illness per 100 days, compared with 1.58 illnesses per 100 days in the control group.)

Kotch said the extra investment in a child care facility results in other savings, including medical costs and the cost of parents having to be absent from work to care for a sick child.


News and Observer (Raleigh) story:

Note: Dr. Kotch can be reached at (919) 966-5976 or

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or