How many infections are too many?

It’s common for parents to be concerned when they feel their child is “’sick all the time” or having too many infections. So, how many infections are too many infections?

It is normal for children to have…

  • 6 to 8 colds per year in the first 10 years of life

  • 0 to 6 episodes of ear infections per year in the first 2-3 years of life

  • 3 episodes of gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”) per year in the first 2-3 years of life

(These numbers may be even higher if the child attends a large daycare defined as more than 8 children per room).

When infections are severe, caused by unusual organisms or recurrent in nature, then parents and physicians should be concerned that there may be an underlying immune deficiency that needs to be addressed. A primary immune deficiency is one where the immune system has not developed or matured normally; it does not include HIV or AIDS which is an acquired immune deficiency.

10 Warning Signs that may indicate an immune deficiency according to the Jeffrey Modell Foundation are:

  1. 4 or more new ear infections in one year

  2. 2 or more serious sinus infections in one year.

  3. 2 or more months on antibiotics with little effect.

  4. 2 or more pneumonias in one year.

  5. Failure of an infant to gain weight or grow normally.

  6. Recurrent deep skin or organ abscesses.

  7. Persistent thrush in the mouth or persistent fungal infection on the skin

  8. Need for intravenous antibiotics to clear infections

  9. 2 or more deep-seated infections including septicemia (blood stream infection)

  10. A family history of primary immune deficiency

If your child always seems to be sick, don’t delay. Be an advocate for your child.