The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked parents who have children age 6 and younger in daycare about the impact of child illness on their families.
Almost one-half of the parents indicated they've missed work in the last year to care for sick kids, and one-quarter missed work three or more times.
Half of parents of young children in daycare said finding alternative or backup care is difficult because many providers have rules excluding sick children from care.
Thirty-one percent said they don't have enough paid leave to cover the days they need for sick children, the survey said.
In addition, 8 percent of parents said they took their sick children to the emergency room because it was more convenient than seeing a primary care doctor.
Dr. Andrew Hashikawa, clinical lecturer in pediatric emergency medicine at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, said many daycare facilities exclude sick children until they have a doctor's note, are taking antibiotics or their symptoms improve, but not every child with a runny nose or cold needs to be sent home from child care.
Typically, colds are spread before the child has any symptoms, so exclusion from daycare does not necessarily reduce the spread of illness, Hashikawa said.