USA: Infants, Toddlers, and Getting Sick While Overseas

USA: Infants, Toddlers, and Getting Sick While Overseas

sophia sick while travellingIn the beginning of June my husband, our two youngest children and I traveled to the United Republic of Tanzania. Aka: my birth home. As expected before international travel, we each took appropriate vaccines and malaria tablets.

We were in Tanzania for five weeks, and within that time both children got sick. It began with the 3 year old getting a viral and bacterial infection. One night we noticed that her temples were a bit hot, and then the heat transferred to her palms and soles and they were hot! I had personally never experienced this nor had I ever come across any such symptoms while doing other research online. So needless to say, it was a bit scary.

When we took her to the doctor, lab results showed that she had a viral infection resulting in a rash all over her body, and a bacterial infection which was likely caused by fecal-oral transmitted bacteria.

Nasty. I know. We are parents, however, and if we aren’t writing posts about fecal-oral bacteria, then why are we really here? (smile)

She was prescribed antibiotics, calamine lotion, an antihistamine cream, and antihistamine syrup. After a week, she was all done with her antibotics, which she finished entirely, even after she felt better (I mention this in jest, but I also want to reinforce the importance of ensuring that our kids finish the antibiotics they are on). Her rash went away after a couple more days and that was that (or maybe not).

As soon as she was fine again, her 1.5 year old brother became ill. Coughing, sneezing, hot temples then hot palms and soles including a 102 degree fever in the middle of the night.

The following day we took him to a doctor and his lab results thankfully showed he had not viral infection, but did have a bacterial infection, also brought on by…. You guessed it: a fecal-oral transmitted bacteria.

You’re welcome.

He was also prescribed antibiotics and probiotics, and began healing quickly.

Fast forward two weeks, to our second last night in Tanzania. My son had a restless night. I thought it was because he wanted his daddy. He was calling ‘Daddy! Daddy!” in the middle of the night and showed no other signs of illness. The next day we walked to pick up my emergency passport (that’s a story for another day) and it was the dustiest 15-minute walk on which he has ever been. Think country road meets busy city road.

I walked as fast as I could, even jogged a bit, but alas, the damage was done. That night he had a runny nose that went from clear to yellow overnight. He has been sick ever since.

When we returned to the States I took him to his pediatrician’s office and explained what had happened. The pediatrician on call prescribed an anti-allergy medication. Five days later he was no better. We went back and his usual pediatrician said to increase the dosage of that medicine and alternate it with another antihistamine.

We added the use of a humidifier, eucalyptus oil, and baby Vicks on the back, chest and feet. We also got a really cool contraption that allows parents to suck the snot out of the baby’s nose through a filtered hose that keeps parents mouths clean. Yay!

Nothing was better. He had that same palm and soles fever for two nights. We took him to the doctor for the third time and I explained our travel and illnesses to a third pediatrician. I explained how both kids were still feeling sick, one with crazy congestion, the other with a persistent upset tummy – something she never used to have.

I am not in the medical field and words in my vocabulary like to take abrupt leave of absence (my husband says it’s because I speak multiple languages. I go with that reasoning!). So sometimes it feels that what I have gathered about my children’s health and what I think should be checked based on how they are feeling, is something that their pediatrician doesn’t quite get. Sometimes it feels as if they dismiss the possibility of something worse until it becomes that very thing; only then is it treated. Again, I am not in the medical field, so maybe there is nothing they can do until the reddened ears become infected ears, and the heavy congestion becomes wheezing… I don’t know.

This third visit proved more fruitful. This pediatrician seemed to actually listen and I also knew to be firm in what I wanted done for my children. He acknowledged the possibility of them being exposed to something overseas that requires special attention; something no one else acknowledged until then.

We are going for a follow up visit tomorrow, but it will also be a second visit for our 3 year old, as she is now showing many of the same symptoms as her brother , plus a couple of her own.

If there was a point (or two) to this post, it would be to please follow your instincts when it comes to your children, if in no other area.

Doctors are now considered to be in position of prestige, but that shouldn’t deter you from doing your research and stating exactly what you would like to see happen with your children. Don’t be afraid to be mom.

When traveling try your best to keep your children’s hands clean, and the dishes they use clean and dry.

What tips do you have when it comes to traveling with small children? Have your children gotten sick while overseas?

Do you feel that your pediatrician is interested in what you have to say? Do you feel that he or she is really listening to you?

This is an original post to World Moms Network by Sophia of ThinkSayBe. Photo credit to the author.




I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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SPECIAL REPORT: @WhiteHouse and #StudyAbroadBecause #WHTravelBloggers

SPECIAL REPORT: @WhiteHouse and #StudyAbroadBecause #WHTravelBloggers

White House Travel Blogger Summit

What I learned at the White House Travel Blogger Summit this week…!

On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, the White House invited over 100 social media influencers in travel and global citizenship to Washington, D.C. to discuss study abroad programs for students. Puzzled about the high level concern? Statistics show that our country is lacking in global ambassadors abroad, and this effects our global economic competitiveness and matters of global security.

Did you know that from 2012-2013 just under 300,000 U.S. students studied abroad for university credit?

It sounds like a big number, right? Well, according to Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State, that number accounts for just 1.5% of the population of 20 million students enrolled during that same time period. Just 1.5%. Shocking, right? Yet, nearly 50% of students indicate that they are interested in studying abroad when they first enter university. So, why is traveling abroad as a student actually a rarity?

Some barriers to taking the international leap can be finances (that was my case!), no flexibility to take courses outside the university in your major, parental concerns, roommate concerns, intimidation of living in a foreign country and lack of information about programs and scholarships.

These were the type of issues that we discussed with top U.S. government officials at the White House Travel Blogger Summit this week. In fact, the White House has announced the launch of a U.S. study abroad office within the next 6 months, as well as, the first-ever Virtual Study Abroad Fair, to be held on February 25, 2015. The new office will help make it easier for more students, regardless of sex, race or socioeconomic status to make studying abroad a reality. And perhaps, we, at World Moms Blog can help with the parental concern part. 😉 (Stay tuned to the blog for advice for parents!)

Why is the U.S. State Department pushing the value of an international component of education?

Our next generation of leaders must have experience as global citizens to be able to “operate within the global political and economic landscape of the 21st century”, according to Evans. An increase of Americans traveling, studying, working and volunteering abroad also helps to break false American stereotypes.

Making Study Abroad Affordable…

Affording to study abroad is not a reality for many American students, which limits the pool of our student ambassadors, limiting the world’s picture of who the American student is. The diversity of American students has not been properly represented to the world with 76% of study abroad students in the 2012-2013 academic year being white, 5% African American, 8% Hispanic, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Native American, as per Ryan.

In my own student experience, I spent a summer abroad in Japan in high school thanks to a local scholarship, when I got to college the door to study abroad was closed to me. I was receiving need-based financial aid at a private university consisting of both, Federal aid and aid from my university’s scholarship fund.  However the private funds only applied to my education at the university, not abroad. So, I was disappointingly priced out.

This week I had the opportunity to speak with Evan Ryan one-on-one just before she spoke at the White House Travel Bloggers conference, and when I told her my story, she told me about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. This scholarship aims to target the population of U.S. students underrepresented in study abroad programs and sends about 2,000 kids abroad to study annually. To be considered for the scholarship, a U.S. student must be receiving need-based financial aid, such as an US Pell Grant or US Stafford Loan (two types of government subsidized need-based university financial aid).

The challenge? Over 9,000 students apply for the Gilman scholarship each year, but only 2,000 can go. It would be great for more students on need-based financial aid to have a global education experience, and the launch of the new U.S. office of study abroad plans to work toward just that goal — that study abroad is for everyone.

The Economic and Political Landscape is Changing and Friendship Aids Navigation

With greater access to transportation and technology in this day and age, the economic and political landscape is changing. There will continue to be more business and government roles that will require candidates who have foreign language skills and global experience. And, perhaps, the most important and overlooked landscape? Friendship.

Having friends around the world is interesting, fun and mind opening, as we have been learning for the past 4 years, here, at World Moms Blog. Being able to put ourselves in our foreign neighbors’ shoes to better understand what their lives are like makes us more understanding global citizens, and vice versa.

One of my most interesting moments in blog friendship was when one of our international contributors that I’ve been working with here over the years once said to me, “I had no idea Americans could be as understanding as you.” It took me by surprise! But then I realized where her statement was coming from — she was getting to know my country in a more personal way through our friendship, just as I was getting to know hers. Social interaction is key to global citizenship and breaking stereotypes.

Just by increasing the human interaction between people of different countries and cultures, I really believe that her sentence can be replaced with any nationality. The key is getting to know each other and realizing that what it is to be a good human prevails behind borders, burkas, playing helmets, Mardi Gras masks, kilts, saris, newspaper headlines and beyond. We just have to get to know one another, human to human, and then we can better navigate the changing global landscapes…together.

Want to know more about the White House Travel Blogger Summit?  Watch the video here:

“When we study together and we learn together; we work together and we prosper together.” — President Barack Obama May 3, 2013 **Stay tuned for more about the White House Travel Bloggers Summit on World Moms Blog — we have even more to say about our tour of the White House, experience at the National Press Corp., Newseum tour and dinner sponsored by Turkish Airlines and additional speakers on global citizenship and travel abroad!

pending, Hyperactivate

This is an original post by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA, to World Moms Blog. 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post,, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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SPECIAL REPORT: World Moms Blog Invited to The White House!!

SPECIAL REPORT: World Moms Blog Invited to The White House!!

World Moms Blog White House

On December 9th, 2014,, a global community for women that writes from over 20 countries on motherhood, culture, humans rights and social good, will join media influencers and top government officials at The White House in Washington, D.C. The goal of the discussions will be “to increase awareness among young people and encourage their participation in educational, cultural and professional exchanges.”

“I am extremely honored and enthusiastic to be invited into the conversation around millennials and global and cultural exchanges at the home of the President of the United States of America.” — Jennifer Burden, Founder of

In 1993 Jennifer won a scholarship from her hometown of Brick Township’s Board of Education to live with a family in Japan for a summer during high school. Her experience through Youth for Understanding was life-changing, and she still remains close friends with the Miyaji family in Japan.  

“We’ve attended each other’s weddings, watched our families grow and exchanged support during tragic events of September 11th, 2001 and the tsunami that impacted Japan in 2011. It has been a mind opening experience to have such a connection with a family elsewhere on the globe, similar to the connections we are now making to mothers through World Moms Blog.”, says Burden.

However, Jennifer is just one of the many WorldMoms community with a story of an early experience abroad that has made an impact.  The invitation to The White House inspired us to ask our globally minded contributors about their early abroad experiences, if any. What we learned may surprise you!…

Our contributor, Ana Gaby from Stumble Abroad, is a Mexico native, who studied abroad in Canada during high school and in France in college. Karyn Van Der Zwet of Kloppenmum in New Zealand worked in London for four years during her 20s. And, Jennifer Iacovelli of Another Jennifer studied abroad in London, England while a junior at Syracuse University in New York, USA.

Dee Harlow, The Wanderlustress has lived all over the world and is now in Lesotho. She told us that during her 20s she was working abroad from the US in Singapore. K10K in Belgium of The Penguin and the Panther volunteered in Rumenia fixing up a local birth clinic and in Morocco helping to install an irrigation system in her early 20s. In fact, her husband proposed to her on that Morocco trip!

Kristyn Zalota of went to Russia on an exchange just after the Soviet Union collapsed. And in college she did a semester in Luxembourg and went back to Russia after graduating and lived with a family. While, Kirsten Doyle of Running For Autism in Canada grew up in South Africa and lived and worked in Israel at age 23.  She started on a kibbutz and then worked on farms.

Elizabeth Atalay of Documama spent a summer in Israel at age 17 after high school, a summer in Bolivia as college student at age 19 and backpacked around South America for the summer at age 21 and for 6 months through Africa when she was 24. She also spent four months backpacking around Asia/Pacific at 26 after college pursuing her work as a documentarian!

Jennifer Prestholdt, The Human Rights Warrior, took a semester off from Yale University when she was 20 and enrolled as a Norwegian student at the University of Oslo’s faculty of political science. She also worked at a barnehage (day care center) when in Norway. During law school, she spent two summers living in Geneva and working at the United Nations.

Nicole Morgan of Sisters from Another Mister went to college in South Africa, then spent a year traveling Europe, where she backpacked through Italy, Greece and Turkey. She volunteered for a while with the YWCA, and then spent six months working in a London advertising/graphics company while waitressing at night. Polish Mom Photographer, grew up in Poland and worked as an au pair as part of a cultural exchange program in U.S when she was 26. She also worked as a waitress in London, England for 2 months when she was 21!

Susie Newday of New Day, New Lesson grew up in the US and went on a program to Israel when she was 18. She lived and worked on kibbutz, and now resides in Israel. And, Olga Mecking, The European Mama, grew up in Poland and studied french in Nancy, France for a month. She then went on to study in Germany for a year, went to Canada for 4 months and then moved to Germany. She has now been living in the Netherlands for the past 5 years.

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez, Truly Rich Mom, of the Philippines grew up and studied in Brunei from kindergarten to secondary school, and then went back home to the Philippines to attend college. After graduating, she became a mission volunteer for her Catholic lay community and was assigned to Borneo (East Malaysia and Brunei) and Timor Leste for about 2 years, to do ministry work for youth and kids. She was then assigned to Manila for a year, then to Timor Leste with her parents and fiance for another year, before getting married at 26. She returned to Timor with her husband as newlyweds and stayed for another 4 years or so before returning to the Philippines.

Nicole Melancon, the Thirdeyemom, studied in Paris when she was 21 and worked as a fille au pair (nanny) and French intern the following year. While, Hannah Ashton moved to the US from the UK when she was 17, went to university in the US, but did her junior year back in the UK. She ended up staying in the US for three years after she graduated. And, Erin Threlfall went to Germany to study at a university and then went volunteered at a refugee camp in Ghana, where she stayed for 11 years!

Sophia Neghesti Johnson of Think Say Be from Tanzania volunteered in Santa Cruz, CA at Bosch Baha’i School for a year at 18. She then studied in Los Angeles, CA and Tampa, FL in her mid 20s with a focus on psychology. At 24 she worked as a freelance photographer for celebrity events in Los Angeles, CA, & has continued freelancing in Florida to sponsor girls’ education in Zanzibar at Regeza Mwendo School.

Our contributor, Anne Marie Wraight in Greece, went to Germany on a cultural exchange programme from the UK. Her choir and orchestra played several concerts together with the youth orchestra from Berlin. They also had a musical to perform which was a great hit!!! She was part of a group that stayed with the musicians from the host orchestra so they could practise our foreign language skills. This exchange took place every 2 years. She says it was, “Great on EVERY level of cultural exchange!”As a result of the experience, Anne Marie did her gap year in Berlin, where she volunteered with retired people who lived on their own and had special needs and taught English. She then moved to Greece in her early 20’s and still resides there today!

Jennifer Burden will be bringing these stories of the community and more to Washington. The invitation to The White House is a big milestone for World Moms Blog, and we are over the moon about including our community in these top-level discussions of global importance for students and young adults! This honor is a true reflection of the hard work of our entire global editing and contributing staff toward running the site and opening minds to what life is like for mothers all over the world. Congratulations to every single World Mom!!

Did you travel abroad when you were in your teens or 20’s on a trip that has impacted your life? Tell us your story in the comments, and we will take it to Washington! is a community that shares the stories of over 60 contributors from over 20 countries on motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. We have been named a FORBES Woman Best Website for Women, ’12 & ’13; a NY Times Motherlode “must read” and recommended in the “The Times of India”.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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WORLD TOUR: Mindi in Belgium

WORLD TOUR: Mindi in Belgium


“An American Toddler in (not quite) Paris”

It’s 2 P.M. and my toddler is tuckered out and ready for his nap; and—let’s be honest—I’m ready for some coffee and couch time. However, there is one small problem; the neighborhood organ grinder has set up shop right outside our apartment.

Welcome to life in Brussels, Belgium.

There are obvious differences between living in the U.S. and living in Belgium; a royal family, socialized medicine, and Nutella encouraged as breakfast fare, just to name a few. But raising an American toddler here in Belgium has brought out some of the more unanticipated nuances between our home country and temporarily adopted one.

The differences between the U.S. and Belgium are by no means all negative. We will soon be taking our son to Paris for his third visit; he regularly has play dates with pals from Italy; Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Russia; and he’s a big fan of Pellegrino — all of which would probably not be the case if we were still in the U.S. But, discovering the differences between our old home and new one adds a little levity to the challenge of raising our son across the ocean from most of our friends and family.

It’s finally summer in Brussels, which means swimming—albeit indoors since it’s rarely hot enough to swim outside. Just like in the States, there are plenty of pools to take your kid to, but there is one difference that never fails to delight me about swimming in Belgium. Everyone, even your bald as a cue ball baby, is required to wear a swim cap. So out of all the things that can come out of babies and end up in the pool, people in Belgium are most concerned about hair. Très Bien!

The language differences are always entertaining. One of my son’s go-to activities while we walk around Brussels is to point out people who are wearing glasses, by yelling, aptly, “glasses!” as they pass by. This is all well and good, except for the fact that the way he says it makes it sound more like, “ca ca” i.e. the French word for ‘poo’. It’s probably not hard to imagine the looks you get from strangers when your kid yells ‘poo’ and points enthusiastically at them. Merde!

Once during a walk, a woman (who wasn’t wearing glasses, mercifully) said something to my son that sounded like, “mechant”, a French word meaning “mean or bad.” I was all set to spew forth my best French insults when I realized she had actually said, “il chant”, meaning, “he’s singing” and in fact, he was. Our little guy loves to sing and play music; so much so that we just might make an organ grinder out of him yet.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mindi, an American expat who has been living in Brussels, Belgium for the past 5 years with her rocket scientist/cycling journalist husband and toddler son. Mindi is a professional social worker, amateur cultural anthropologist and failing French student who loves Belgian waffles, mussels, and absurdity, and who misses American bagels, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and pragmatism. Mindi’s son tweets his daily displeasures at:

Photo credit to the author. 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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