Traveling Safely with Infants & Children

Traveling Safely with Infants & Children is a topic covered in the CDC Yellow Book.

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Overview

The number of children who travel or live outside their home countries has increased dramatically. In 2016, an estimated 2.81 million international travelers from the United States were children or adults traveling with children. Although data about the incidence of pediatric illnesses associated with international travel are limited, the risks that children face while traveling are likely similar to those their parents face. However, children are less likely to receive pretravel advice. In a review of children with posttravel illnesses seen at clinics in the GeoSentinel Global Surveillance Network, only 51% of all children and 32% of the children visiting friends and relatives (VFRs) had received pretravel medical advice, compared with 59% of adults. The most commonly reported health problems among child travelers are as follows:

  • Diarrheal illnesses
  • Dermatologic conditions, including animal and arthropod bites, cutaneous larva migrans, and sunburn
  • Systemic febrile illnesses, especially malaria
  • Respiratory disorders

Motor vehicle and water-related injuries, including drowning, are also major health and safety concerns for child travelers.

In assessing a child who is planning international travel, clinicians should:

  • Review routine childhood and travel-related vaccinations. The pretravel visit is an opportunity to ensure that children are up-to-date on routine vaccinations.
  • Assess all anticipated travel-related activities.
  • Provide preventive counseling and interventions tailored to specific risks, including special travel preparations and treatment that may be required for infants and children with underlying conditions, chronic diseases, or immunocompromising conditions. Adolescents traveling in a student group or program may require counseling about disease prevention and the risks of sexually transmitted infections, empiric treatment and management of common travel-related illnesses, sexual assault, and drug and alcohol use during international travel (see Chapter 9, Study Abroad & Other International Student Travel).
  • Give special consideration to the risks of children who are VFR travelers in developing countries. Conditions may include increased risk of malaria, intestinal parasites, and tuberculosis.
  • Consider counseling adults traveling with children and older children to take a course in basic first aid before travel.

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Overview

The number of children who travel or live outside their home countries has increased dramatically. In 2016, an estimated 2.81 million international travelers from the United States were children or adults traveling with children. Although data about the incidence of pediatric illnesses associated with international travel are limited, the risks that children face while traveling are likely similar to those their parents face. However, children are less likely to receive pretravel advice. In a review of children with posttravel illnesses seen at clinics in the GeoSentinel Global Surveillance Network, only 51% of all children and 32% of the children visiting friends and relatives (VFRs) had received pretravel medical advice, compared with 59% of adults. The most commonly reported health problems among child travelers are as follows:

  • Diarrheal illnesses
  • Dermatologic conditions, including animal and arthropod bites, cutaneous larva migrans, and sunburn
  • Systemic febrile illnesses, especially malaria
  • Respiratory disorders

Motor vehicle and water-related injuries, including drowning, are also major health and safety concerns for child travelers.

In assessing a child who is planning international travel, clinicians should:

  • Review routine childhood and travel-related vaccinations. The pretravel visit is an opportunity to ensure that children are up-to-date on routine vaccinations.
  • Assess all anticipated travel-related activities.
  • Provide preventive counseling and interventions tailored to specific risks, including special travel preparations and treatment that may be required for infants and children with underlying conditions, chronic diseases, or immunocompromising conditions. Adolescents traveling in a student group or program may require counseling about disease prevention and the risks of sexually transmitted infections, empiric treatment and management of common travel-related illnesses, sexual assault, and drug and alcohol use during international travel (see Chapter 9, Study Abroad & Other International Student Travel).
  • Give special consideration to the risks of children who are VFR travelers in developing countries. Conditions may include increased risk of malaria, intestinal parasites, and tuberculosis.
  • Consider counseling adults traveling with children and older children to take a course in basic first aid before travel.

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