Epidemiologic and biogeographic analysis of 542 VFR traveling children in Catalonia (Spain). A rising new population with specific needs

Lluís Valerio, Sílvia Roure, Miquel Sabrià, Xavier De Balanzó, Nemesio Moreno, Octavio Martinez-Cuevas, Carme Peguero

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Imported diseases recorded in the European Union (EU) increasingly involve traveling immigrants returning from visits to their relatives and friends (VFR). Children of these immigrant families can represent a population of extreme vulnerability. Methods. A randomized cross-sectional study of 698 traveling children under the age of 15 was performed. VFR traveling children and non-VFR (or tourist) children groups were compared. Results. A total of 698 individuals were analyzed: 354 males (50.7%) and 344 females (49.3%), with a median age (interquartile range) of 4 (2-9) years. Of these, 578 (82.8%) had been born in the EU with 542 (77.7%) being considered as VFR, whereas 156 (22.3%) were considered tourists. VFR children were younger (4.7 vs 8.2 yr; p < 0.001), they had more frequently been born in the EU (62.8% vs 20.1%; p < 0.01) and were more frequently lodged in private homes (76.6% vs 3.2%: p < 0.001) and rural areas (23.2% vs 1.6%; p < 0.001). Furthermore, VFR remained abroad longer (51.6 vs 16.6 d; p < 0.001), the visit/travel time interval was shorter (21.8 vs 32.2 d; p < 0.001) than tourists, and consultation was within 10 days prior to the departure (26.4% vs 2.7%; p < 0.001). The risk factor most differentiating VFR children from tourists was accommodation in a rural setting [odds ratio(OR) = 5.26;95%CI = 2.704-10.262;p < 0.001]. Conclusions. VFR traveling children showed a greater risk of exposure to infectious diseases compared with tourists. Immigrant families may represent a target group to prioritize international preventive activities. © 2011 International Society of Travel Medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-309
JournalJournal of Travel Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011


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