- With Mayo Clinic emeritus consultant
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.Jay Hoecker, M.D.
Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, brings valuable expertise to health information content on primary care pediatrics. He has a particular interest in infectious diseases of children.
He's a Fort Worth, Texas, native, certified as a pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was trained at Washington University's St. Louis Children's Hospital, and in infectious diseases at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He has been with Mayo Clinic since 1989.
"The World Wide Web is revolutionizing the availability and distribution of information, including health information about children and families," Dr. Hoecker says. "The evolution of the Web has included greater safety, privacy and accuracy over time, making the quality and access to children's health information immediate, practical and useful. I am happy to be a part of this service to patients from a trusted name in medicine, to use and foster all the good the Web has to offer children and their families."
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Air travel with infant: Is it safe?
Is air travel safe for an infant?
from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
Air travel is appropriate for most infants. Before you fly with your baby, however, consider:
- Your baby's age. Generally, age doesn't affect an infant's ability to handle air travel. Your baby's doctor might discourage unnecessary air travel shortly after birth, however.
- Your baby's ears. Changing cabin pressure during a flight causes temporary changes in middle ear pressure, which can trigger ear pain. To help equalize the pressure in your baby's ears, encourage your baby to suck on a bottle or pacifier during takeoff and landing. Ear infections and ear tubes aren't thought to pose problems during air travel. If your baby is ill, however, you might ask his or her doctor whether you should postpone the flight.
- Your baby's breathing. During flight, air pressure in an aircraft cabin is lower than air pressure on land. Although this temporary change in oxygen level doesn't seem to pose problems for otherwise healthy babies, your baby's doctor might recommend supplemental oxygen if your baby has an underlying respiratory condition. If your baby was born prematurely and has a history of lung disease, your baby's doctor might recommend postponing air travel until age 1 or later.
- Your baby's safety seat. Most infant car seats are certified for air travel. Although airlines typically allow infants to ride on a caregiver's lap during flight, the Federal Aviation Administration recommends that infants ride in properly secured safety seats. If you choose not to purchase a ticket for your infant, ask about open seats when you board the plane — in case one can be assigned to your infant. For the most room, choose bulkhead seats if you can.
If you're tempted to give your baby an over-the-counter medication to encourage sleep during the flight — such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, others) — be cautious. The practice isn't generally recommended, and sometimes the medication can have the opposite effect. If you still think that medication might be the best option for your baby, talk to your baby's doctor first. He or she might recommend a test dose at home to be sure the medication has the intended effect.
It's also important to think about how you'll occupy your baby during the flight. You might bring on board a teething ring, pacifier, special blanket or stuffed animal, and age-appropriate toys and books. If your baby is fussy while you're in the air, take occasional breaks to walk up and down the aisle — as long as the crew approves moving throughout the cabin.
In addition, be prepared to feed your baby during the flight. Baby formula, baby food, expressed breast milk and juice are allowed on board in reasonable quantities, according to the Transportation Security Administration. You can take your baby out of his or her safety seat for nursing whenever the crew approves moving throughout the cabin.Next question
Breast-feeding strike: Why do babies refuse to nurse?
- Fischer PR, et al. Children and airplanes: Are we having fun yet? Minnesota Medicine. 2011;94:33.
- Important information on traveling with formula, breast milk, and juice. Transportation Security Administration. http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/formula.shtm. Accessed Sept. 27, 2011.
- Child safety on airplanes. Federal Aviation Administration. http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs. Accessed Sept. 27, 2011.
- Bossley C, et al. Taking young children on aeroplanes: What are the risks? Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2008;93:528.
- Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. Child passenger safety. Pediatrics. 2011;127:e1050.