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Moving Abroad and Kids: A Guide

April 13, 1998|THE WASHINGTON POST

Are you and your family planning a move abroad? Here's a checklist for your children's health:

Before the Move:

* Check that your health insurer covers your medical needs in the new country. If not, buy supplemental insurance with specific overseas coverage and an emergency evacuation plan, if necessary.

* Make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date. You should advance the vaccination schedule of critical childhood vaccines such as diphtheria and measles if moving to a country where there is a high incidence of the disease.

* Schedule a dental checkup or treatment near your departure date to give you more time to find a new dentist once arriving in the host country. Have new molars sealed in the United States if possible.

* Gather copies of medical records (including dental) and X-rays to take with you on the flight.

* Pack important medications and prescriptions. Check with the relevant embassy whether the medications are allowed into the new country. For example, some over-the-counter medicines common in the United States--including inhalers and allergy and sinus medications--are not permitted in Japan, and visitors have been detained and investigated.

* If possible, get referrals from your doctor and dentist to pediatric doctors abroad. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Assn. of Orthodontics have listings of overseas members trained in the United States.

* Discuss feelings about the move with children and have a formal goodbye party with friends.

* Collect "sacred objects," such as a favorite toy or blanket, as well as CDs and a headset stereo to be taken on the flight for immediate comfort value in the new country.

Immediately Upon Arriving:

* Learn the emergency phone numbers in cases of fire and accidents. Get a sheet of emergency phrases in the local language from the U.S. Embassy.

* Get references for pediatricians, pediatric dentists and other specialists from the U.S. Embassy.

* Find out whether the local water supply contains adequate fluoride. If not, follow a dentist's recommendations on fluoride supplements.

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