It’s that time of year, when kids are excited to sport their new backpacks, don their school clothes and see their friends after a long summer…it’s back to school! Along with all of these exciting things, is the not-so-exciting prospect of exposure to all new types of “cooties.” We want to share with you the biggest “germ hotspots” in the classroom so you can make your kids aware in an attempt to keep them healthy.

Researchers from the University of Arizona* swabbed classrooms and common area surfaces at six K-12 schools and determined that the germiest place at school is the cafeteria table. Close behind were computer mouses, which harbored nearly twice as many bacteria as desktops, the bathroom paper towel handle, water fountains, bathroom sink faucets, library tables and computer keyboards.

Those Pirates of the Caribbean and Princess backpacks are also breeding ground for bacteria because of the contents inside and the fact that they are tossed on the ground, in the bus, and goodness knows where else. Get your kids in the habit of using an enclosed antibacterial wipe after lunch and wash the backpack regularly. For kids who are embarrassed to pull out their hand sanitizer, have them use a long lasting sanitizer. OutLast Long-Lasting Hand Sanitizer protects for up to six hours. This formula, used in hospital during long surgeries, also does not leave hands with the stickiness that gel sanitizers leave.

Teach your kids to keep their hands off of their face and mouth and to wash their hands often. Washing hands after using the bathroom should always be reinforced. Studies have shown that only 53% of students wash their hands after using the bathroom and only 18% actually use soap. If there are lids on the toilets, kids should learn to put them down before flushing.

Of course, we can’t hold our children’s sanitized little hands all day at school, so what can you do at home to boost their immunity? There are several supplements that you can give your children to help build their defense system. One is Sambucol, a natural product that is my go-to during the winter season in both adult and children’s formulas. I’ve used it successfully for years. Sambucol is elderberry extract in a syrup form. Studies have shown that elderberries are unusually rich in the phytochemicals known as flavonoids and among all fruits, elderberries are the most concentrated source of nthocyanins, a class of flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants to boost the immune system and protect the body’s cells from harm. It has also been shown effective in fighting the H1N1 virus.

More than seven in 10 children of school-aged children (aged 5-17 years) in the United States missed school in the past 12 months due to illness or injury . Hopefully these tips will help keep your children from being one of them…

Here’s to a cootie-free school year!

Cindy Burreson has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 15 years as a national fitness competitor, personal trainer, and owner of a nutrition store. She holds a certification in nutrition and worked for both MET-Rx and PR Ironman Bar. She writes a blog at and is a full-time mommy. Writing about health and fitness is her passion.

References: * University of Arizona workplace study, Fall 2005, Dr. Charles P. Gerba Unpublished; (1), “Back to School Germs”, August 25, 2010; (2); (3) and; (4) CDC. Summary Health Statistics for

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