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Lap Infants May Be At Greater Risk For Death In Flights, Researchers Find

Update Date: Aug 03, 2014 12:04 PM EDT
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Lap infants may be at greater risk for death on commercial airline flight, a first-of-its-kind of study has revealed. 

The study analyzed pediatric medical emergencies on flights worldwide between January 2010 and June 2013 and found that around 90 percent of deaths occurred in children under the age 2. 

The study aimed at characterizing the rare event of an in-flight pediatric fatality onboard commercial airline flights worldwide. Researchers considered more than 7,000 reported medical emergencies and found that death most commonly occurred in previously healthy children under the age of 2, and in children with a preexisting medial condition. 

"The pattern we identified in our analysis is intriguing and could indicate lap infants are at greater risk of death related to in-flight environmental factors such as sleeping arrangements," said Alexandre Rotta, MD, FCCM, Chief, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at UH Rainbow and the studies' principal investigator, in the press release. 

He added that the pattern would have gone unnoticed through single case analysis of these relatively rare events. 

"I hope our findings lead to further research on this important subject," said Dr. Rotta. "It is my belief the pattern we discovered should promote the development of preventative strategies and travel policies to protect the health of all pediatric airplane passengers, especially infants."

The study is published in the Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Journal. 

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