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The myths about preventing a common cold that Aussies keep falling for

Parents are relying on old wives' tales to prevent their child catching a cold, a national poll shows.

According to the latest Child Health Poll by The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, many parents are confused over how to keep the dreaded cold at bay.

Eighty-four per cent follow strategies passed down from generation to generation, including staying indoors or not going to bed with wet hair or outside with bare feet.

Two-thirds give their children over-the-counter vitamins or supplements such as Vitamin C, while one in eight administer antibiotics.

A woman lies in bed blowing her nose. According to the Child Health Poll by The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, most parents don't know how to treat a cold and rely on outdated ways to keep kids healthy.
Eighty-four per cent of Australians follow strategies passed down from past generations to fight getting a cold, according to research. No evidence found the methods work. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

A quarter of parents believe taking antibiotics can stop the cold from turning into the flu, even though colds are caused by a virus.

There is no evidence these methods have any benefits, the report said.

The most effective way of preventing a cold is good hygiene, director of the poll and paediatrician Anthea Rhodes said.

"Wash hands, clean contaminated surfaces and avoid people who are sick when you can," she said on Wednesday.

The poll of 1990 parents, who care for 3630 children aged one month to 18 years, was conducted in February.

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