It’s hard to find anything better on a hot and humid summer day than taking a dip at the local swimming pool. And while your older children will likely swim until their fingertips resemble prunes, just how safe is that chlorinated pool water for your baby?
The chlorine conundrum
Though less harsh alternatives are on the market as a replacement for chlorine, the pungent pathogen killer remains the most popular choice for keeping swimming pools clean.
But, according to a study by the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, in addition to being nasally offensive, chlorine has also been shown to irritate the more delicate skin and upper respiratory tract of babies, causing an increased risk for rash, asthma, bronchiolitis and other respiratory infections.
Why? Babies are at a greater risk for respiratory infections because their lungs are still developing and they tend to swallow water while swimming, which can contain irritants.
Keep baby safe
To keep your infant safe this summer at the pool, the doctors at Suburban Pediatrics recommend:
- Keeping your baby’s head above the water at all times to prevent water and any irritants/germs it may contain from getting into the eyes or accidentally swallowed. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while chlorine is good at killing most germs, some pathogens can live for days in a chlorinated pool. Many nasty recreational water illnesses are spread by swallowing pool water infected with fecal matter.
- Limit your infants time in the water if it feels cold to you and watch for signs of discomfort like shivering, pale skin and crankiness
- Making sure the area is well ventilated if using an indoor pool.
- Rinsing off before and after swimming, when possible.
“If you walk up to a pool area, indoor or outdoor, and instantly smell chlorine, it doesn’t mean the pool is extra clean,” said Dr. Ronna Schneider of Suburban Pediatrics. “It means that the level of chlorine is likely too strong for your infant.”
How can Suburban Pediatrics help?
We want you and your family to have a safe and fun time around the pool this summer. However, things can happen even when you’ve taken precautions. Call us at 513-336-6700 or schedule a sick visit online if your child develops any of the following after swimming, especially a public pool:
Symptoms of a chlorine rash
- Itchy red skin
- Hives (itchy bumps)
Symptoms of recreational water illness
- Stomach cramps