Definition and Overview
Traveling to another country with the family, whether for business or a holiday, is certainly an exciting adventure. Unfortunately, diseases can quickly turn an adventure into a nightmare, especially for kids under the legal age. To minimize the risks of contracting diseases in a foreign country, it is best to schedule a pediatric travel medicine consultation well before the planned date of travel.
Despite being referred to as pediatric travel medicine consultation, the consultation isn’t for children alone. In fact, most services of this type are designed for the parents, guardians, and children who are traveling in a group. The consultation usually consists of three parts:
- Initial health assessment
- Advice and information on common diseases in the country of destination
- Immunizations and boosters
All travelers in the group need to undergo an initial health assessment to determine the health condition of each individual. If the initial assessment reveals an existing health issue, the doctor will provide advice on the necessary precautions that the traveler needs to take.
The group will also be advised on the risks of diseases at the country of destination. Exotic countries, such as those in the Far East and Asia, normally have a higher risk thus necessitating more precautionary measures. However, if the group plans to travel to far locations and those with high altitudes, the doctor will also explain the risks of certain conditions, such as jet lag and high altitude sickness.
During the initial health assessment, the doctor will ask for confirmation of current immunizations. If the country of destination requires more immunizations, these will also be given. It’s best to schedule the consultation at least six months before the planned date of travel because some immunizations require boosters to be more effective.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Knowing what to expect in a foreign country and being prepared for unexpected situations is the key to a pleasant holiday or business trip. Therefore, doctors advise that everybody who plans on traveling, especially children under the legal age, to undergo a travel medical consultation well in advance of the travel date.
The length of the consultation will depend on the health of the individual and the immunizations required. Those in perfect health and already have the basic immunizations would typically complete the consultation in less time.
How Does the Procedure Work?
Pediatric travel medicine consultations typically begin with a review of the medical history of each traveler and their history of immunizations.
The doctor will require the information about the intended destination to provide specific advice on the diseases that can be acquired in that particular country. For instance, if the country is not particularly known to provide potable tap water, the doctor would advise against water borne contaminants and diseases. When traveling to Asia or the Far East where mosquitoes are in abundance, doctors would provide information on diseases that are transferred by mosquitoes and other insects.
It would also be advisable to inform the doctor if the group intends to travel to high altitudes within that particular country. High altitude sickness may not seem like a dangerous condition, but if a traveler does not know how to handle the condition, the entire trip can turn into a nightmare not only for the person affected but also for the whole group.
Once the doctor has determined the required immunizations, each traveler will be immunized according to their needs. Typical immunizations include Hepatitis A and B, influenza, HPV, encephalitis, typhoid, yellow fever, and polio. In some cases, the country of destination will require a certain vaccine.
Risks and Possible Complications
Traveling to another country will always have risks in terms of health. If a minor is traveling with a known condition, it is imperative that his or her family or guardians are prepared with the medications needed. Knowledge of any travel restrictions on medications is also crucial. Bringing a copy of the medical certificate and the doctor’s prescription of the child is highly recommended, just in case authorities in the country of destination question the legality of such medications.
Other than undergoing a pediatric travel medicine consultation, obtaining health insurance information for each traveler is also important.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Travelers’ health: common travel health topics. Updated 10/23/2014. Available at: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/common-travel-health-topics. Accessed November 20, 2014.
Foodsafety.gov. Avoid foodborne illness when traveling abroad. Updated 10/5/2011. Available at: www.foodsafety.gov/blog/international_travel.html. Accessed November 20, 2014.
Pediatric Travel Medicine Consultation: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results
Understanding Pediatric Travel Medicine
Planning a trip abroad with your child can be an exciting experience; however, it also comes with certain risks and challenges. International travel exposes children to different environments, climates, and diseases they may not encounter at home. Ensuring their health and safety during the trip is of utmost importance. Pediatric travel medicine consultations are comprehensive medical evaluations designed specifically for children traveling internationally.
Why Are Pediatric Travel Medicine Consultations Necessary?
When it comes to international travel, children may be more susceptible to certain infections and diseases due to their immature immune systems. Pediatric travel medicine consultations are essential to identify potential health risks and develop appropriate preventive strategies and interventions tailored to your child’s specific needs.
Benefits of Pediatric Travel Medicine Consultations
Here are some key benefits of seeking a pediatric travel medicine consultation before your trip:
- Identification and prevention of travel-related diseases: A pediatric travel medicine consultation allows healthcare professionals to assess your child’s vaccination status and recommend additional immunizations based on the destination’s disease profile. This helps protect your child from illnesses such as malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, and others that may be prevalent in certain regions.
- Advice on effective preventive measures: Healthcare professionals experienced in pediatric travel medicine can provide valuable advice on personal protective measures such as insect repellents, mosquito nets, safe food and water practices, and general hygiene practices to minimize the risk of infections.
- Management of pre-existing medical conditions: Children with pre-existing medical conditions may require extra care while traveling. A pediatric travel medicine consultation helps develop a personalized plan to manage these conditions during the trip, ensuring appropriate medications and necessary medical documentation for travel.
- Evaluation of destination-specific risks: Different destinations pose different health risks. A pediatric travel medicine consultation includes a thorough evaluation of the specific risks associated with your travel destination, allowing healthcare professionals to provide tailored guidance based on local health conditions.
- Advice on travel safety: In addition to health-related concerns, pediatric travel medicine consultations also cover general safety recommendations. This includes guidance on safe transportation, accommodation, and activities suitable for children while abroad.
What to Expect During a Pediatric Travel Medicine Consultation
A typical pediatric travel medicine consultation involves an assessment of your child’s health history, vaccination records, and any pre-existing medical conditions. Here is an overview of what you can expect:
Evaluation of Vaccination Status
The healthcare professional will review your child’s vaccination history and ensure they are up to date on routine childhood vaccines. They will also discuss travel-specific vaccines recommended for the destination, such as yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, or meningitis vaccines.
Individualized Risk Assessment
Based on your travel plans, the healthcare professional will conduct an individualized risk assessment, taking into account your destination, duration of stay, seasonality, and activities planned. This assessment helps identify potential health risks specific to your child’s trip.
Preventive Measures and Medications
The healthcare professional will provide advice on preventive measures to minimize the risk of infections, such as using insect repellents, mosquito nets, and practicing safe food and water habits. They may also prescribe medications such as antimalarials or antibiotics if necessary.
Management of Pre-existing Conditions
If your child has any pre-existing medical conditions, the healthcare professional will review their current management plan and make necessary adjustments to ensure continuity of care during the trip. They will also provide any required medical documentation or prescriptions for travel.
Travel Safety Guidelines
The consultation may include general travel safety guidelines, including information on safe transportation, accommodation, and any specific precautions to take during activities such as swimming or hiking, depending on your destination.
When planning an international trip with your child, their health and safety should be your top priority. Pediatric travel medicine consultations offer invaluable insights and guidance specific to your child’s needs and destination. By identifying and managing potential health risks, ensuring up-to-date vaccinations, and providing expert advice on preventive measures, these consultations play a crucial role in ensuring a safe and healthy travel experience for your child. Prioritizing a pediatric travel medicine consultation will give you peace of mind, knowing that you have taken every precaution to protect your child while creating lifelong memories.