When illness keeps a child out of day care, a parent usually loses a day of work. Yet research indicates kids often are sent home with daddy or mommy at the wrong times, or for the wrong reasons.

A recent study from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center concludes that most parents, pediatricians and childcare providers know the recommended guidelines for the 12 most common childhood ailments only about 60 percent of the time.

Example: some children are sent home with symptoms of a common cold, or for showing signs of allergic conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye. Yet kids may be allowed to stay around other youngsters even when they have uncontrollable coughing, or persistent diarrhea. The practices usually should be just the opposite, according to Dr. Kristen Copeland, lead author of the study.

With common viral infections, for instance, everyone who had contact with the child was exposed to the virus by the time symptoms appear. A child might feel better when mom or dad picks her up early because she has a runny nose, but her departure probably won't benefit her playmates or caregivers.

The study appeared in the November-December 2005 issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics.