Infants under two years of age have a greater risk of death on a commercial airline flight compared to other children, a new study conducted by researchers at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital (UH Rainbow) reveals.
The study was conducted in partnership with MedAire to characterize the rare event of an in-flight pediatric fatality onboard commercial airline flights worldwide. Through a detailed analysis of more than 7,000 reported medical emergencies involving children (newborn to age 18) over a three-year period, researchers found death most commonly occurred in previously healthy children under the age of 2, and in children with a preexisting medical 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," says Alexandre Rotta, MD, FCCM, Chief, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at UH Rainbow and the studies' principal investigator. Dr. Rotta, who is also Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, says 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," says 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."