• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Family travels during yuletide seasons (part 2)

Family travels

Either travelling into or out of Nigeria during this yuletide season, it is important that the common health problems in children are taken care of prior to travel. The most commonly reported health problems among child travellers include: Diarrheal illnesses, dermatologic conditions, including animal and arthropod bites, cutaneous larva migrans, and sunburn, systemic febrile illnesses, especially malaria, respiratory disorders. Motor vehicle accidents, water-related injuries, including drowning, are major health and safety concerns for child travellers.

When a child is planning on international travel, parents should ensure they visit a Travel clinic to ensure that children are up-to-date on routine vaccinations and travel-related vaccines. It is also an opportunity to assess all anticipated travel-related activities with provision of preventive counselling and interventions tailored to specific risks, including special travel preparations and treatment that may be required for infants and children with underlying health conditions. Adolescents travelling may require counselling 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.

Motor Vehicle-RelatedVehicle-related injuries are the leading cause of death in children who travel. While travelling in automobiles and other vehicles, children should be properly restrained in a car seat, booster seat, or with a seat belt, as appropriate for their ages and weight.

Drowning: This is the second leading cause of death in young travellers. Children are not familiar with hazards in the rivers. Swimming pools may not have protective fencing to keep toddlers from falling into the pool. Close supervision of children around water is essential. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity while supervising children around water. Water safety devices such as life vests may not be available at destination; families should consider bringing these from home. Protective footwear is important to avoid injury in many marine environments.

Air Travel: Air travel is safe for most newborns, infants, and children, a few issues should be considered in preparation for travel. Children with chronic heart or lung problems may be at risk for hypoxia during flight, and a clinician should be consulted before travel. Making sure that children can be safely restrained during a flight is a safety consideration. Severe turbulence or a crash can create enough momentum that a parent cannot hold onto a child. The safest place for a child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system/device (CRS). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges that children be secured in a CRS for the duration of the flight. Car seats cannot be used in all seats or on all planes.

Diarrhea: Children with diarrhea can become dehydrated more quickly than adults. For infants, breastfeeding is the best way to reduce the risk of foodborne and waterborne illness. Water served to young children, including water used to prepare infant formula, and should be disinfected. Food precautions should be followed diligently. Foods served to children should be cooked thoroughly and eaten while still hot; fruits eaten raw should be peeled by the caregiver immediately before consumption. Caution should be used with fresh dairy products, which may not be pasteurized and/or diluted with untreated water.

For short trips, parents may want to bring a supply of safe snacks from home for times when children are hungry and available food may not be appealing or safe.  Dehydration is best prevented and treated by ORS in addition to the infant’s usual food. ORS can be given to the infant by bottle, cup, and oral syringe. However, if ORS is not readily available, children should be offered whatever safe, palatable liquid they will take until ORS is obtained. Breastfed infants should continue to be breastfed.

Malaria: Children coming into Nigeria from non-malaria area are at higher risk of severe malaria. Chemoprophylaxis is important in this group and bite avoidant measures. AccommodationsHotels and other accommodations should be carefully inspected for exposed wiring, pest poisons, paint chips, or inadequate stairway or balcony railings.

Sun- exposure: Sun exposure, and particularly sunburn before age 15 years, is strongly associated with skin cancer. Babies aged <6 months require extra protection from the sun because of their thinner and more sensitive skin; severe sunburn for this age group is considered a medical emergency. Babies should be kept in the shade and wear clothing that covers the entire body. A minimal amount of sunscreen can be applied to small exposed areas, including the infant’s face and hands.

Travel healthy, stay healthy and return healthy


Dr Ade Alakija

Q-life Family Clinic

[email protected]