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Are children more susceptible to altitude sickness? How high can kids safely go?
Submitted by – V.L.H., Oshkosh, WI
As high as they can climb. Kids are sturdier than we think and scientific data supports this. Studies suggest that young hikers are not more susceptible to altitude sickness than the rest of us; indeed, many children travel to resorts at high elevations without complications. As with adults, altitude sickness is selective with kids – some are affected, others are not. Do make sure you allow time for acclimatization and have your kids drink extra fluids and eat regularly (as you should, too). And watch them closely. In children 8 and older, look for the following symptoms: headache, nausea, loss of appetite, and general lassitude. If you’re taking younger children up high, watch for unusual fussiness and an inability to sleep. In all cases, be proactive. If you think a child is ill from the elevation, descend 1,500 to 3,000 feet; if he doesn’t feel better within a few hours, exit the trail and find a doctor.