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February 1993

Acute Mountain Sickness in Children at 2835 Meters

Author Affiliations

From the Colorado Altitude Research Institute, Keystone (Ms Theis and Drs Honigman, Yip, Houston, and Moore); the Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Denver (Ms Theis and Dr Moore); Emergency Medicine Research Center, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver (Dr Honigman); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nutrition Division, Atlanta, Ga (Dr Yip); Keystone (Colo) Science School (Dr McBride); and Cardiovascular Pulmonary Research Laboratory, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver (Dr Moore). Ms Theis is currently with the Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle.

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(2):143-145. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160260033017

• Objective.  —Acute mountain sickness has been described in adults but little is known concerning its occurrence in children. Our objective was to determine the incidence of acute mountain sickness in children.

Methods.  —A survey questionnaire was completed by 558 children (aged 9 to 14 years) after they ascended from 1600 to 2835 m and from 405 similarly aged children after travel at sea level.

Results.  —Three or more of the following symptoms in the high-altitude setting were considered as the case definition of acute mountain sickness: headache, loss of appetite, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, shortness of breath, and dizziness. One hundred fifty-six (28%) of the children at 2835 m developed acute mountain sickness. Three or more symptoms developed in a smaller, but nonetheless considerable, number (86 [21%]) of children at sea level. Headache, shortness of breath, and dizziness were reported more frequently at high altitude than at low altitude, whereas the other symptoms occurred with equal frequency at the two locations.

Conclusions.  —More than one fourth of the children visiting high altitude developed acute mountain sickness. A high proportion (21%) of children at sea level developed similar symptoms, suggesting that an appreciable portion of the symptoms present were due to factors other than altitude, such as travel, anxiety, or disruption of daily routine.(AJDC. 1993;147:143-145)