Paediatric travel medicine involves the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases that are acquired during travel in children.
Since children’s immunity is immature and not as strong as adults they are prone to contract infections or fall sick easily during journeys. Some common diseases include infections, respiratory illnesses, allergies, diarrhoea, tuberculosis and malaria. Therefore, it is important to exercise necessary precautions and be prepared before you begin travel with your child to avoid discomfort at a later stage.
What are the Symptoms of Travel Sickness in Children?
The common symptoms of paediatric travel diseases include fever, abdominal pain, headache, body ache, dizziness, cough, watery stools, and vomiting.
Safe Travel Practices to Prevent Travel Diseases
Maintain Hygiene to Prevent Food, Water and Air Borne Infections
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- Drink bottled or boiled water only.
- Eat hygienically cooked food. Packed food should be consumed if the former is unavailable.
- Eat only those vegetables or fruits that have been bought whole and peeled.
- Use pasteurized milk only.
- Avoid chilled liquids, raw sea food, reheated and street food.
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
To Prevent Malaria
Wearing full sleeved clothes and applying mosquito-repellent creams are effective ways to reduce the spread of malaria.
To Prevent Transmission from Animals to Humans
- Restrict your child from going near or touching and playing with wild animals.
To Prevent Sunburn
- Dress the child in full sleeved shirts or tops and full-length pants including hat and sunglasses to wear.
- Apply sufficient amount of sunscreen, minimum SPF 30+, preferably 30 minutes before sun exposure.
Car and Travel Safety
- Keep your child buckled up in cars to avoid motor vehicle injuries.
Immunization for Paediatric Travel
It is important to be prepared and get your child vaccinated in advance as:
- Certain medications or vaccines that are suitable for adults are not recommended for treatment of children due to the possibility of adverse reactions, while,
- Certain medicines may simply be ineffective in children.
Common diseases and infections that can be prevented through vaccination include:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Diphtheria–Tetanus–Pertussis (DTP)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Poliomyelitis (Polio)
- Bacterial infections like pneumonia, meningitis and blood infection
When Should I Get My Child Vaccinated?
For most of the diseases listed above, the vaccine administration starts from 2 months, followed by the next dose at 4 months, 6 months and 4 years each. The dosing schedule may vary slightly and for a better understanding, you may discuss in detail with your paediatrician.
What are “Travel-Specific Vaccines”?
Certain other vaccines may also be administered depending on the place you are visiting and the nature of the trip. These are termed “travel-specific vaccines” and may include cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, Bacille Calmette–Guérin (BCG) and Japanese encephalitis.
How are Vaccines Administered?
The common route of injection is intramuscular, an injection that is given into a muscle usually the upper arm or buttocks. Some vaccines may be given for oral use in the form of capsules to be swallowed.
Other Treatments for Paediatric Travel Diseases
If despite taking necessary precautions, your child still falls sick, he/she maybe given suitable medicines based on the symptoms. In addition, fluids and oral electrolyte solutions may be administered to prevent dehydration. Increased fluid intake is especially important in diarrhoea and vomiting. Follow your paediatrician’s instructions for a smooth and speedy recovery.