Objective. Scarce data are available on the occurrence of ailments and diseases in children during travel. We studied the characteristics and frequencies of ailments in children aged 0 to 18 years and their parents during traveling.
Methods. A prospective observational study on ailments reported by children and parents traveling to (sub)tropical countries was conducted. The ailments were semi-quantitatively graded as mild, moderate, or severe; ailments were expressed as ailment rates per personmonth of travel.
Results. A total of 152 children and 47 parents kept track of their ailments for a total of 497 and 154 weeks, respectively. The children reported a mean ailment rate of 7.0 (5.6–8.4) ailments per personmonth of travel; 17.4% of the ailments were graded as moderate and 1.4% as severe. The parents reported a mean ailment rate of 4.4 (3.1–5.7); 10.8% of the ailments were graded as moderate and 5.5% as severe. Skin problems like insect bites, sunburn and itch, and abdominal complaints like diarrhea were frequently reported ailments in both children and parents. Children in the age category 12 to 18 years showed a significantly higher ailment rate of 11.2 (6.8–14.1) than their parents.
Conclusions. Skin problems and abdominal problems like diarrhea are frequently reported ailments in children and their parents and show a high tendency to recur during travel. The majority of these ailments are mild but occasionally interfere with planned activities. Children in the age group 12 to 18 years are at a greater risk of developing ailments during a stay in a (sub)tropical country and they should be actively informed about the health risks of traveling to the tropics.