ISMM Consensus Statement

Children at High Altitude: An International Consensus Statement by an Ad Hoc Committee of the International Society for Mountain Medicine, March 12, 2001

EACH YEAR MANY THOUSANDS of lowland children travel to high altitude uneventfully. The majority of these pediatric ascents involve trips to mountain resorts, especially in North America and Europe, and a smaller proportion involve journeys to remote highland areas in nonindustrialized nations. In addition, an increasing number of children are moving to reside with their families at high altitude as a result of parental occupation. Although altitude travel is without incident for most, some of these children develop symptoms that may be attributed to altitude exposure, but there has been little documentation in the medical or scientific literature. Here we outline cases where available.

This consensus statement is concerned with the incidence, prevention, recognition, and treatment of serious altitude illness in the pediatric population. Unfortunately, the particular risks of exposure of children to high altitude have been little studied and much of the advice must necessarily be extrapolated from adult data with due consideration of the influence of growth and development.

The aim of this statement is to offer information for clinicians providing advice concerning altitude travel in the pediatric population. Through better education, parents can make informed decisions regarding travel with their children and can be empowered to detect altitude illness, should it occur.

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