Children and Malaria: Reducing the Risk

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Children and Malaria: Reducing the Risk

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Children who live in areas where malaria is present

Malaria causes the death of thousands of children in certain areas of the world, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Young children are especially susceptible because they have not yet developed any immunity to malaria, which develops through repeated infections. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working to reduce the number of deaths. WHO encourages parents to seek prompt care and treatment, treat other health conditions, and use mosquito-proof bed nets.

Children who travel to areas where malaria is present

If you intend to travel to an area where malaria is present, try to prepare for your trip at least 6 weeks in advance. Learn about the prevention and treatment of malaria in children. The most current information about your travel destination and the risk of malaria is available from:

  • Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • A travel clinic (which can be located through the International Society of Travel Medicine's website at www.istm.org).
  • Your local health unit.
  • Your doctor.

It is important to review this information, have your child's immunizations up-to-date, and get any other shots required for your destination. Children are sometimes given the same antimalarial medicines as those given to adults to prevent malaria. The amount of medicine given to a child is based on the child's weight. Overdosage of antimalarial medicines can be fatal. Keep medicines in childproof containers out of reach of children, and give dosages exactly on schedule.

Some health conditions may prevent a child from taking certain medicines, and a less effective medicine may be prescribed instead. If your child is unable to take a highly effective medicine such as mefloquine or doxycycline, it may be best to avoid travel in chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum areas.

In young children, use a preparation containing less than 10% strength, because DEET can be toxic if too much of the chemical is absorbed through the skin. Do not use DEET on children younger than 6 months. To learn how to safely use insect repellents, visit Health Canada's website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/life-vie/insect-eng.php.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last Revised June 20, 2011

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