Is it safe to fly with a newborn?

In our modern world many of us, myself included live away from our loved ones.  One of the first things we want to do when we welcome a new baby into our lives is to introduce them to family. Unfortunately flying may potentially place a newborn at risk of illness. Before you book your flights there are a few important considerations to take into account.

A baby has limited immunity against infection.  In the first 6 weeks to 3 months of life you can help protect your baby against infections by limiting their exposure to crowds.  Unfortunately, a plane flight exposes baby to a large number of people putting them at a higher risk of infections.  In addition, the earliest that most scheduled vaccines can be given is six weeks, meaning that if you fly with your baby earlier than this they are at a higher risk of contracting a vaccine preventable infection than vaccinated children.

A baby’s anatomy is also different.  The reduced oxygen pressure at altitude may put them at risk of having low oxygen levels – or hypoxia.  Babies with certain conditions such as heart or lung disease are at a higher risk of developing hypoxia at altitude, however such conditions may not have yet been diagnosed in a newborn baby.  Even babies with a minor illness such as a cold are at a higher risk of developing hypoxia at altitude.

In addition, because babies cannot tell us whether they are feeling unwell, they can become very unwell very quickly.  Long haul flights when you are likely to be away from medical attention for 12 to 24 hours with a young baby may place them at risk.

There will be instances when plane travel in the first six weeks of life is necessary.  This includes flights for medical reasons.  In light of the potential risks avoid non-essential plane travel until your baby is at least 6 weeks old, preferably 3 months.  Ensure that babies travelling at this age have had their six week baby check up with a GP or paediatrician.  Also, discuss with your GP the benefits of accelerating their immunizations.  Unless the flight is for medical purposes it is also suggested not to fly with a young infant who is unwell, even if they only have a cold.

© Copyright 2012 Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move