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Child Travelers Have Different Health Issues Than Adults

Their health care utilization patterns also differ, and diagnoses differ by destination

MONDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Children have different health problems associated with international travel than adults as well as different patterns of health care use, and the most common diagnoses in children vary by travel destination, suggesting a need for health professionals who provide pre-travel advice to tailor prevention strategies by age as well as destination, according to research published online April 5 in Pediatrics.

Stefan Hagmann, M.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in Bronx, N.Y., and colleagues analyzed data reported to the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network between January 1997 and November 2007 on 1,591 children. All had traveled internationally and had presented for care afterward. More than 32,668 ill adult travelers were used for comparison.

The researchers found that children presented earlier than adults, more often required hospitalization, were less likely to have gotten medical advice before traveling, and were more likely to travel for the purpose of visiting relatives and friends. The most common regions visited were Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. Diarrhea, dermatologic problems, systemic febrile illness, and respiratory disorders accounted for 28, 25, 23, and 11 percent of children's diagnoses, respectively. Diarrhea occurred disproportionately among children who had traveled to the Middle East/North Africa; dermatologic conditions after exposure to Latin America; systemic febrile illnesses, sub-Saharan Africa or Asia; and respiratory disorders, Europe or North America.

"Health professionals providing pre-travel advice need to consider destination- and age-specific susceptibility to travel-related morbidities and develop prevention strategies accordingly," the authors write.

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