Hand sanitizers not shown to cut school absences

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Putting alcohol-based hand sanitizers in classrooms in the hopes of reducing school absences due to illness may not be worth the expense in high-income countries where clean water for washing hands is readily available, a study says.

It finds that adding the sanitizers to school-age kids' usual hand hygiene routine — washing with soap and water — did not reduce illness-related absences.

The findings, reported in this week's PLOS Medicine, do not apply to hospitals and health care facilities or in controlling the spread of gastrointestinal illness where hand sanitizers remain a vital component of infection control, says lead study author Patricia Priest of New Zealand's University of Otago, in Dunedin, in an e-mail.

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