Childhood Diseases: Introduction


Diseases can be devastating for anyone, but it seems particularly unfair when they attack children. Unfortunately, many diseases seem to take a special interest in the young, infecting them more frequently and vigorously than they do adults.

In this section, you will learn about several common childhood diseases, and why some diseases seem to prey on the young. It's not all gloom and doom, though, for researchers have made great strides in controlling many childhood diseases. Vaccines, in particular, have saved thousands of young lives, and with proper use they will continue to do so.

Why the Young?

Children are more susceptible to diseases for a number of reasons. The major reason for children's increased susceptibility is that they have had limited exposure to diseases and therefore haven't yet built the immunologic defenses required to fend off certain diseases. The environment plays an important role as well. Children in day care centers and in school pass infections around and then take them home and pass them to siblings and parents. This is a cycle that is difficult to break. Children also don't always practice good hygiene and that makes them both susceptible to as well as good transmitters of disease.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dangerous Diseases and Epidemics © 2002 by David Perlin, Ph.D., and Ann Cohen. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.