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PHOENIX–()–MedAire, the world’s leading provider of medical, travel and safety
services for passengers on planes, and its parent company International
SOS, issues recommendations for safer airline travel with an infant. The
recommendations are based on the findings of a study using five years of
data from tracking in-flight medical emergencies. For more than 30
years, MedAire has provided in-flight medical assistance to many of the
world’s airlines to assist flight crew with on-board 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).

Dr. Paulo Alves of MedAire, comments, ‘Of the cases involving children
requiring medical help, while the majority 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. The good news is that there
are some simple precautions that parents can take to prevent or reduce
in-flight illness and injury.”

As many families are travelling for the holidays in the coming months,
MedAire and International SOS has developed some recommendations based
on their recent research findings that may be helpful for those
travelling with children this year.

Recommendations for Parents Traveling with Small Children:

1. Ensure children are healthy for travel: Discuss any
pre-existing conditions or health issues with your paediatrician 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.

2. 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.

3. Location. Location. Location: Choosing the right seat is
importantIf you can afford it, you should purchase infants
a seat rather than have them travel as a lap infant. The safest option
is to have a child secured using an FAA approved child restraint system
(CRS) at all timesUse the CRS beyond take-off 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 utilising remote medical assistance
from emergency health care providers on the ground that can advise and
assist.

ENDS



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