(HealthDay News) — Nearly one-quarter of US parents surveyed knowingly exposed others to their child when the child had or may have had COVID-19, according to a survey published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers surveyed 580 parents who had children younger than 18 years of age living in the same household. The parents were asked if they had ever engaged in 7 types of misrepresentation and nonadherence behaviors related to COVID-19 public health measures (PHMs) for their children.

Overall, 25.9% of participants reported misrepresentation and/or nonadherence in at least 1 of 7 behaviors. The most common behaviors were not telling someone who was with their child that they thought or knew their child had COVID-19 (24.0%) and allowing their child to break quarantine rules (21.1%).

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The most common reason for misrepresentation/nonadherence was wanting to exercise personal freedom. Additional reasons including wanting their child’s life to feel normal and not being able to miss work or other responsibilities to stay home.

“Our findings suggest a serious public health challenge in the immediate context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including future waves affecting weary parents, as well as future infectious disease outbreaks,” the researchers wrote. “Further work is needed to identify groups at highest risk of misrepresentation and nonadherence, to address parents’ concerns that were identified as reasons for these behaviors (eg, desire for autonomy), and to implement better support mechanisms for parents (eg, paid sick leave for family illness) during such crises so that misrepresentation and nonadherence feel less necessary.”

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