Travel medicine tips from the doctor safe travel destinations with baby and toddler

Which destinations are suitable for babies. suitable for small children? What do travel medicine specialists advise families with small children not to do?? In the run-up to the world's largest tourism trade fair ITB Berlin, the Center for Travel Medicine (CRM) recommends choosing vacation destinations according to the age of the children.

Travel medicine tips from the doctor safe travel destinations with baby and toddler

It is best to consult a travel doctor before going on vacation with a toddler

Traveling with babies and toddlers is highly recommended and a valuable experience for parents and children alike. But: For such young children there are special risks and dangers in some respects. Parents should know these before deciding on a destination.

Your first port of call before traveling with a baby or toddler should therefore be a doctor – your pediatrician, a travel medicine doctor or a designated center for travel medicine (these are available in many cities).

We grabbed a proven expert: Dr. Mathias Wagner is a pediatrician in Berlin. Travel medicine specialists at the Center for Travel Medicine (CRM).

Travel planning with baby and toddler: precaution with information

There are three factors that baby and toddler parents should consider when choosing a vacation destination: distance, medical infrastructure and climate.

"If the destination is too far away and a journey is therefore associated with many hardships, the local medical infrastructure is not well developed or the climate is extreme, parents should better not expect their children to travel," says Dr. Wagner. As a pediatrician, he takes on the role of a child's advocate in travel medicine consultations.

Dr. Wagner points out: "Children have a reduced ability to adapt to cold, heat and altitude."They are sometimes much more sensitive to climatic extremes than adults are.

One source of danger, in the view of the travel medicine specialist, is the uninformed behavior of many small children: "They run toward animals and thus have a different risk."

One of the risks for toddlers and babies is that almost everything they get their hands on ends up in their mouths. Therefore, they cannot be creamed with mosquito repellents (repellents containing DEET). Otherwise you run the risk of licking off the insect venom.

Choosing safe destinations for babies and toddlers

The tiger mosquito transmits dangerous infectious diseases

Dr. Wagner appeals to all parents to inform themselves about possible dangers before a trip. In his practice, he has also advised parents who would not have booked a flight to a malaria risk area if they had known about the danger beforehand.

"In general, parents are reasonable," said Dr. Wagner's experience. That's why the expert says: "Of course you have to take precautions and be considerate, but parents shouldn't make themselves slaves to their children. With the right preparation you will survive. Your baby will survive a long-haul flight with a time difference unscathed. Dr. Wagner advises changing the daily rhythm in advance of the flight: "Ideally, the children are tired and the parents rested."

Real No-go destinations for families the expert hardly knows. Only from three regions on earth he clearly advises against with small children:

On the Indonesian Sunda Islands east of Lombok to Papua New Guinea and in the tropical East, West and Central Africa There is an extremely high risk of contracting the dangerous malaria tropica. And on the South American Altiplano there is the threat of altitude sickness.

Not only is the risk of contracting the disease high in these regions. At the same time, medical care there is very poor.

Malaria: the greatest danger for young children

Minor bruises are normal when traveling

Altitude sickness and malaria are dangerous for babies and small children, not only because their organism is still weak. In addition, the diseases often run in young children without specific symptoms.

But if they are not recognized, they can be fatal very quickly. For example, a malaria infection in babies under three months of age can initially be completely free of fever and accompanied only by coughing.

If a malaria area cannot be avoided as a travel destination with young children, a mosquito net is the most important protection. "The mainstay of malaria prevention is the prevention of mosquito bites," says CRM malaria expert Professor Martin Haditsch. Mosquito nets during the night are 90 to 95 percent effective, according to his data.

If fever occurs, the next step should be to go directly to the doctor. A quick visit to the doctor is also preferable to giving standby medications on suspicion.

How high the risk of malaria is in a particular region depends on a number of factors. For example, climate change is causing malaria in Africa to spread to ever higher regions. Currently, according to Prof. Venezuela. Hadich affected by an explosive malaria outbreak, which, according to experts' observations, is already spreading to neighboring countries.

The CRM provides up-to-date information on the malaria risk in your travel destination on its website.

An additional problem when traveling with children to the tropics is the increasing number of other infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, such as dengue, chikungunya or Zika virus. In order for children to be protected against it, they must also wear mosquito repellent during the day, and this means that parents must consistently put lotion on them.

"Try to put repellent on a preschooler every day. They do not want that. There is screaming every day. This is something parents should think about beforehand," advises pediatrician Dr. Wagner.

Taking small children to Nepal or Bolivia?

travel medicine tips from the doctor safe travel destinations with baby and toddler

High up with young children? Better not yet

Traveling to higher regions is something you can do once your kids are out of the woods. From the age of about five to six years, they adapt more easily to altitude and are more likely to express the symptoms associated with altitude sickness (for example, shortness of breath or headaches).

If you are planning a trip to the Bolivian Altiplano or the Himalayas, first test your family's altitude fitness on a hut tour in the high Alps.

On location, you should not climb more than 300 meters of altitude in one day, according to expert advice. You will gain additional safety if you first look for places from which you can quickly return to lower regions if necessary in order to adjust to the altitude.

Take precautions with vaccinations and a first-aid kit

If you know in advance what you're getting into when you travel to a destination, you can prepare accordingly. This is also important because many long-distance trips require special vaccinations.

Before last-minute bookings, families should therefore check which travel protection vaccinations are recommended or required for the vacation destination. There are also rapid immunizations against some diseases.

"Even if there are only a few days left until the start of the trip, parents should seek travel medicine advice at least once before setting off," advises Dr. Wagner. He also recommends not taking longer long-distance trips with infants and toddlers until they are Complete all general protective vaccinations have gone through.

If it is unavoidable, for example because a trip is work- or family-related, then parents should find out where they can get further vaccinations en route. In the case of business-related travel, this is often possible at the German embassy in the country of travel. In other cases, international hospitals may be good places to go.

Travel vaccinations free of charge?

In many cases, the costs for travel vaccinations are covered by the health insurances. Get a duplicate bill from the doctor. Send a copy to your health insurance company with a request for reimbursement (don't forget your insurance number).

Most health insurance companies reimburse the expenses. Generous they show especially when it comes to vaccinations for children.

To the health precaution for the family journey belongs also a well equipped travel pharmacy. In addition to wound care products (disinfectant, tweezers, scissors, plaster, bandage), nasal drops for the flight, fever reducers (e.g., antipyretics), you should also pack a first-aid kit.B. paracetamol) and an electrolyte solution for diarrhea.

If your child has an underlying chronic condition, pack one and a half times the amount of medication you actually need for the trip.

Dr. Wagner advises you to pack a third of it in your hand luggage so that you have something ready to hand even if your suitcase gets lost. Emergency medication always belongs in the hand luggage.

Danger recognized – danger averted!

In any case, it is helpful to know in advance what risks you are taking on a trip. Then you can prepare and know what to do in case of emergency.

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