News on Wellness

New Concerns Raised for Infants Traveling by Air

baby-on-airplaneEvery year, millions of people travel by air, many of them small children and infants. For most parents, as long as children are properly strapped in and given snacks and activities to keep them busy, everything is fine. However, newly released research indicates there are potential risks for infants while flying.

According to experts, the biggest concern has to do with in-flight turbulence. In fact, of all risks to infants while flying, this lands at the top of the list. The problem is that after take-off, adults and children alike are allowed to unbuckle their seatbelts but in instances of turbulence, infants can quickly and easily be thrown from their seats.

One particular study actually confirmed cases of pediatric death while flying, although extremely rare. Now, while some of the deaths were related to existing medical conditions, the cause of approximately 50% remains unclear. For that reason, researchers have begun to pay more attention to turbulence and other in-flight risks for infants and any connection with death.

According to Alexandre Rotta, the lead researcher and chief of pediatric critical care at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital (associated with the healthcare system at University Hospitals in Cleveland), “What was unexpected was the number of healthy lap infants who ended up dead. It’s a rare event but this is clearly a pattern”.

Another risk involving infants being suffocated as the result of sleeping with a parent in the same in-flight seat, especially those on long flights, is another risk identified by researchers. In these instances, the deaths appeared to be very similar to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS, whereby children suffocate while sleeping on their stomachs opposed to backs.

Yet another possible reason for in-flight infant deaths has to do with lower oxygen levels, which for babies with poorly or undeveloped respiratory systems can be an extremely big problem. While this information is alarming, it is not intended to scare parents or prevent them from taking infants on flights.

Rather, information from the various new studies is intended to advise parents of possible risks and specific things they can do to dramatically decrease these risks. For example, both infants and smaller children should be given their own seat and remain buckled up at all times. In addition, infants should be restrained in an approved car seat or baby carrier during flight.

One Comment

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