ABSTRACT: Immigrants have a higher risk of contracting some infectious diseases. The aim of this study was to determine and compare the morbidity profile of immigrant children according to their country of origin.
We performed a descriptive study of all immigrants aged less than 14 years old who attended the Tropical Medicine Unit of the Ramon y Cajal Hospital in Madrid between 1989 and 2001.
A total of 170 children were included (73 % from Africa, 19 % from Latin America, and 5 % from Asia). Seventy-five percent had at least one infectious disease (78 % of Africans and 62 % of Latin Americans) and 27 % were co-infected (> 2 pathogenic agents). The proportion of healthy children was higher (p < 0.05) among Latin Americans (21 %) than among Africans (9 %). The most frequent infectious diseases were malaria (35 %), intestinal parasites (48 %), filariasis (23 %), and viral hepatitis (19 %). Malaria, filariasis and hepatitis were more frequent in Africans than in Americans (p < 0.05). Other helminthic infections (15 %) were more frequent in Americans. In both groups intestinal parasites and tuberculosis (6 %) were prevalent. Of the 36 (21 %) asymptomatic children, 53 % had at least one infectious disease. The most frequently diagnosed diseases in Africans were intestinal parasitosis (35 %), malaria (7 %), cured hepatitis B (15 %), filariasis (12 %) and superficial mycosis (4 %). The most frequent infectious diseases in Latin Americans were intestinal parasitosis (38 %) and visceral toxocariasis (25 %).
Infectious diseases and co-infections are frequent in immigrant children, even in those who are asymptomatic. We propose screening of certain infectious diseases in these children according to their country of origin and their length of residence in Spain.
Anales de Pediatría 02/2004; 60(1):16-21. · 0.77 Impact Factor