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The Federal Government is trying to ease fears that new hygiene guidelines will mean children can't blow out candles on birthday cakes at childcare centres.

The latest National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines, titled Staying Healthy, aim to prevent the spread of illness.

But Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, who helped launch the guidelines this week, rejects concerns they go too far.

"They are not rules and we're not policing them," she told ABC Radio in Melbourne today.

"These are suggestions for childcare workers if they want to reduce the spread of infections in childcare centres.

"A lot of it is just good common sense."

The guidelines state that children should not blow out candles on a birthday cake to be shared with friends to avoid spreading germs - a suggestion the Australian Medical Association (AMA) warns may put kids in a bubble.

"To prevent the spread of germs when the child blows out the candles, parents should either: provide a separate cupcake (with a candle if they wish) for the birthday child and enough cupcakes for all the other children (or) provide a separate cupcake (with a candle if they wish) for the birthday child and a large cake that can be cut and shared," the document states.

Another guideline stresses that children should wash their hands before and after playing in the sandpit, using alcohol sanitiser.

AMA president Steve Hambleton said it was normal and healthy for children to be exposed to a certain amount of environmental antigens that build their immune systems.

"If you live in a plastic bubble you're going to get infections (later in life) that you can't handle," he told News Limited.

Early Childhood and Childcare Minister Kate Ellis is also defending the guidelines.

"Just to be clear - there are no rules for childcare centres on birthday cakes and they can determine their own policies and procedures," she wrote on Twitter.

The West Australian

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