The study objective was to assess differences in demographics and travel health challenges between youths ≤18 years old traveling internationally to visit friends and relatives (VFRs) compared with those traveling for other purposes (non-VFR).
The Boston Area Travel Medicine Network consists of 5 clinics collecting anonymous data from international pretravel consultations. Data on all travelers ≤18 years of age seen between January 2008 and July 2010 were used. VFRs were compared with non-VFRs on demographics, primary language, trip characteristics, travel vaccinations administered, malaria prophylaxis and antidiarrheal medications prescribed.
Thirty-five percent (610/1731) listed VFR as their purpose of travel. Almost half of VFRs were <5 (46%) years old compared with <5% of non-VFRs. Thirty percent of US-born VFRs with foreign-born parents were ≤2 years compared with 4% of foreign-born VFR children and 3% of US-born VFRs with US-born parents. More VFRs than non-VFRs planned travel to countries that were yellow fever holoendemic, had malaria risk and were high-risk for typhoid (44% versus 20%, 39% versus 12%, 25% versus 15%, P < 0.01). VFRs were less likely than non-VFRs to be prescribed atovaquone-proguanil (adjusted prevalence ratio = 0.57, confidence interval = 0.44-0.72) and to have had an antidiarrheal medication prescribed (adjusted prevalence ratio = 0.68, confidence interval = 0.60-0.75).
To reduce travel-related morbidity, healthcare providers should be prepared to give travel advice to parents of VFR infants and children, particularly those US-born VFRs with foreign-born parents, regarding antimalarial and antidiarrheal medications and preventing yellow fever, malaria and typhoid.