MOST Australian children have admitted to spreading germs by sneezing directly into the air, according to new research about kids' respiratory hygiene.
Research from nationwide educational program Sneezesafe revealed 92% of kids wipe their nose on clothing rather than tissues and some will even purposefully sneeze on their friends as a joke.
On average this winter, Aussie kids will miss 3.1 school days because of colds and the flu and most parents believe school is the biggest culprit when it comes to their children picking up germs.
Now in its fourth year, the Sneezesafe campaign 'Catch it! Bin it! Kill it!' helps children learn basic respiratory hygiene in the classroom and at home.
The school program from Kleenex Tissues reached 46% of Australian primary and pre-schools - the equivalent of 285,462 students nationally - in 2012.
Dr John D'Arcy, a family physician and medical editor for the Seven Network's 'Sunrise' program, is a supporter of the Sneezesafe program.
"When we consider how easily germs can spread, it's concerning to learn of Australian children's poor sneezing behaviour.
"The best way to keep our children healthy, is through prevention and education.
"This is where a program such as Sneezesafe can play a vital role in educating young kids in the importance of maintaining basic respiratory hygiene - and give them the right tools and knowledge to form hygienic habits for life," said Dr John D'Arcy.
Fast facts from Sneezesafe research:
Boys vs Girls
- 33% of boys are more likely to wipe their nose on hands and clothing than girls (19%)
- Boys are twice as likely to never use a tissue
- Two thirds of parents admit to sneezing without covering their nose
- 61% of parents have sneezed into their hands, then wiped it on their clothing
- Kids are twice as likely to wipe their sneeze on their clothing if they see their parents doing this
What do kids think about germs?
- Kids believe germs are green (34%), have hundreds of legs (30%) and look like bugs (48%)
- One third of kids believe boys and girls have different germs
- 14% of kids believe their eyes will pop out of their head if they sneeze with their eyes open