Bringing Up Babies, Toddlers and Children in Brazil

Everything for parents with young children living in Brazil: with information on health matters, child benefits and childcare...

When a child is born in Brazil, it is common practice for an obstetrician to oversee the birth. Children receive a health booklet at birth called a Boletim de Saúde Infantil e Juvenil or Livro Vermelho. In this book are the vaccinations and dates recommended by the World Health Organization, with a space for the medical center or practitioner to sign and stamp. There are no mandatory vaccinations in Brazil.

Health Matters

Health care in Brazil is funded by the Brazilian Government. The Ministry of Health (Ministério da Saúde) is responsible for public health services, government hospitals (also known as Municipal Hospitals) and medical services.

Basic infant health

Parents may wish to choose a pediatrician, a doctor which specializes in children's development, for their child's care. A doctor can be selected based on recommendations, location or inclusion in the family’s health plan.

Every child has a right to basic vaccinations under Brazilian legislation. However, due to lengthy queues for treatment under the National Health System and the greater number of people with private health plans, many parents choose to see a pediatrician operating in the private sector.

The calendar of vaccinations is well-structured and catered for by the public system. Parents may choose to give their child other vaccinations including those against meningococcus and Hepatitis A. These two vaccinations are only available at private clinics with a doctor’s prescription.

The most important and recommended vaccinations are:

  • BCG against tuberculosis; newborns should be vaccinated within 12 hours of birth
  • Tríplice Bacteriana against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough; the first vaccination is given at two months, with boosters given at four and six months
  • Tríplice Viral vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella given in a single dose at 12 months

There are no particular ages recommended for baby and toddler check ups, but most parents make sure their children at this age are seen at least once every six months during the first two years. Depending on the pediatrician, these check ups can range from a basic body development analysis and conversation or advice on doubts and concerns over the growing process, through to dietary planning and even infant psychology.

Children's hospitals and emergencies

The majority of both the public and private hospitals have specialized children’s units. Prior to treatment, a parent will usually be asked to supply their child's medical history. When taking a sick child along to an emergency center or pediatrics hospital, the following will be required:

  • proof of identity
  • the child’s vaccination record
  • health plan/ insurance details
  • (optionally) a copy of the child's birth certificate

Medication

If medication has been prescribed following a consultation with a doctor, it is bought and paid for at a pharmacy. Medications have to be paid for to the pharmacy regardless of whether the parent has a health plan or whether the prescription was issued at a public hospital. Most clinics and hospitals have a pharmacy near the exit.

Be aware, some parents have found that pediatricians tend to prescribe antibiotics as a basic course of practice regardless of the child's ailment.