Too often, travelers tend to underestimate the potency of the hundreds of exotic diseases out there in the world. A trip to Thailand can mean a nasty case of yellow fever should one enter the country with less than adequate protection, and many would agree – it’s a shame, seeing as most of these diseases are entirely preventable and the cost of treatment for treating most of them far exceeds the cost of a vaccine.
Costs aside, the tendency for children to contract these illnesses ranks far too high, according to specialists. A May 2010 study in Pediatrics Magazine has come to a disconcerting conclusion: children are only 49 percent likely to visit their local pediatricians, while adults had a much higher rate of pre-trip doctor visits – almost 60 percent. The study, which surveyed 34,000 international travelers over a period of ten years, found that children are considerably less likely to be evaluated by a doctor and therefore much more prone to contracting an exotic illness for which they have no immunity.
It will come as no surprise to readers that children should be taken care of just as much, if not more than adults before they embark on an international journey. Kids are more susceptible to many different illnesses that adults are less likely to contract, and the symptoms in younger children may be more severe.
The problem is not only while traveling, either. Children are more likely to be in close contact with others, and therefore could very well pass the illness along when they return home with their unaffected parents. Because of this, children who travel without a doctor’s visit can be a risk not only to themselves, but to those around them.
Not to be ruled out is the possibility for children to pass local illnesses along to the people in countries they visit. Should they be the carriers for any disease or condition before they leave, locals in other nations can be exposed to ailments to which they hold no immunity.
For all these reasons, parents should not neglect offering their children a trip to the doctor before any voyage this coming summer. It is simply not worth running the risk, and a number of complications can be avoided with a quick, simple visit to your local pediatrician.