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Can hand sanitizer lower school absentee rates?

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he Centers for Disease Control says it's best to have children wash their hands with soap and water, but a hand sanitizer with an alcohol concentration of at least 60 percent is a good second choice. (Source: CNN) he Centers for Disease Control says it's best to have children wash their hands with soap and water, but a hand sanitizer with an alcohol concentration of at least 60 percent is a good second choice. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - School children get low marks when it comes to spreading germs, often sharing their bugs with their fellow classmates.

So scientists decided to find out if adding hand sanitizers to classrooms would mean fewer kids missed school due to illness.

Researchers in New Zealand recruited about 70 primary schools, assigning half to a control group in which children washed their hands with soap and water.

The other students were part of an intervention group that not only used soap to wash, but were also asked to use classroom hand sanitizers when they coughed, sneezed and before meals.

Children in both groups were given a 30 minute hand hygiene lesson.

After following students for 20 week, researchers found that the absentee rates between the two groups were virtually the same.

The study results support similar finding from previous studies.

So what is the take away for schools and parents? The Centers for Disease Control says it's best to have children wash their hands with soap and water, but if that is not available a hand sanitizer with an alcohol concentration of at least 60 percent is a good second choice.

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