MedAire, an International SOS Company - the
world's leading provider of medical, travel and safety services for passengers
on planes - issues recommendations for safer airline travel with an infant.
The recommendations are based on the findings
of a new study being published using years of data from tracking in-flight
For more than 30 years, MedAire has provided
in-flight medical assistance to many of the world's airlines to assist flight
crew with onboard medical emergencies, and now has the largest database of its
kind tracking in-flight medical events.
MedAire's world renowned Aviation Medical
Expert, Dr. Paulo Alves,
and Group Medical Director of International SOS
Dr. Neil Nerwich,
in collaboration with Dr. Alexandre
Rotta and the University Hospital
Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, examined MedAire's
extensive database of in-flight medical events(IFME).
|The research evaluated over 114,000 IFMEs from
January 2009 through January 2014. More than 10 percent of these events involved
children (newborn to age 18).
While the vast majority of cases involving
children requiring medical help were the result of a pre-existing medical
condition or health problem; more than three percent of cases involved an injury
occurring during the actual flight. Of those cases 35 percent involved children
under the age of two.
The most common injuries were burns, contusions and
lacerations, which were most commonly caused by spilled hot beverages or soups,
followed by falls from the seat involving lap infants.
Dr. Paulo Alves
As many families are traveling for the
holidays in the coming months, MedAire has developed some recommendations based
on their recent research findings that may be helpful for those travelling with
children this year.
"The good news," says Dr. Paulo Alves of
MedAire, "is that there are some simple things parents can do to prevent or
reduce in-flight illness and injury by taking some simple precautions."
Recommendations for Parents Traveling with
Ensure children are healthy for travel- Discuss any pre-existing conditions or
health issues with your pediatrician prior to traveling. If your child has been
sick, or becomes sick at the time of departure, share your concerns with a gate
agent so a proper assessment can be made prior to take off. Taking a
preventative approach on the ground will avoid an in-flight emergency where
options are limited.
Come Prepared- The most common in-flight ailments for infants and children were
gastrointestinal and respiratory related. Parents should travel with their own
supply of common medications such as analgesics, antihistamines, and
anti-emetics should they be needed in flight. Always keep these medications in
your carry-on luggage, keeping in mind you will need travel size bottles for
liquids to meet TSA guidelines.
Location. Location. Location. - Choosing the right seat is important. If you can
afford it, you should purchase infants a seat rather than have them travel as a
lap infant. The truth is that the safest option is to have a child secured using
an FAA approved child restraint system (CRS) at all times. Use the CRS beyond
takeoff and landing to avoid common injuries such as falling from a parent's lap
or into the aisle. If that extra seat isn't an option, the next best choice is a
window or middle seat - many in-flight injuries occurred when items fell from
overhead bins; children fell into the aisle, collided with other passengers or
the crew meal cart; or hot liquids were spilled being passed over other
passengers. Keeping infants away from the aisle can reduce risks of common
injuries as well as keep your little one more occupied.
Take turns keeping children occupied - If there is more than one adult traveling
in your party, take turns staying vigilant to ensure the safety of the child
while the other adult rests. The longer the flight, the more antsy the child
will be; be sure to bring items to keep children occupied in the seat and again
minimize the time that they are not using a CRS.
Practice safe sleeping- While it may seem obvious, the same safety risks that
apply at home apply in the sky. Always practice safe infant sleeping wherever
you are, as suffocation and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) related
fatalities can occur anywhere. Be careful to ensure that your lap baby is not
overdressed or overheating on the plane, allowing for good ventilation when
sleeping on a parent.
If you do have an emergency, stay calm and
rest assured knowing that help is available. Ask the flight attendant for
assistance as soon as you identify any health concerns. It is never too early
for you to bring up a medical concern- in fact, the earlier it can be addressed
the better. Airlines have protocols to help passengers when health incidents
occur on board. The flight crew is trained in first aid and knows what to do to
help in an emergency, often utilizing remote medical assistance from emergency
health care providers on the ground that can advise and assist.