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Longhaul with a 5-month old baby - dangerous?

13 replies

Sid · 09/07/2002 11:15

We're flying to Hong Kong this August for a family wedding. After much dithering we've decided to take all the children (5 years, 3 years and 5 months), which we're aware is not going to be easy (12 hours on a plane, jet lag, hot and humid weather etc. etc). My parents-in-law i.e. on the other side of the family, have hit the roof and accused us of being selfish, unfair on the children and particularly of endangering the life of our 5-month old baby (lots of strong amotive language is being used to deter us!). My question is this - does anyone know of any research that shows that long haul flights can harm young babies (due maybe to reduced cabin pressure, poor circulating air quality and/or other factors) or does anyone have experience of this? I have known lots of babies make that same journey without any ill effects, but I would love to refer my parents-in-law to some concrete evidence (either way, of course).
Thanks.

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Joe1 · 09/07/2002 11:31

When we went to Austrialia a few years ago there were a couple of young babies on that flight and seemed to travel quite well.

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bloss · 09/07/2002 12:17

Message withdrawn

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Tissy · 09/07/2002 12:24

I'm amazed that your in-laws aren't delighted at the prospect of seeing their grandchildren. Are they going to have to put you all up i.e. is there a hidden agenda? I agree with bloss, ask them for evidence that it is harmful. I'm sure the older children will have the time of their lives!

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mears · 09/07/2002 12:35

Perhaps they are aware of research fairly recently that highlighted concerns that neonates desaturate oxygen on long haul flights. You can reassure your inlaws that noenates are babies up to the age of 4 weeks, therefore your 5 month old will be fine. The airlines all have tips on how to cope with babies on long haul flights and none of them include not taking them

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sjs · 09/07/2002 15:18

Sid
I live in Hong Kong, and my dd was born here. In her 17 mths we have clocked up 43,000 miles (so it says in her BA Skyflyers log book!). She first flew at 4 months old. I asked her paediatrican the first time we flew, and he said there was no problem, just make sure you feed the 5 mth old on take off and landing to prevent him/her getting ear ache.

I've never heard of anything like your parents-in-law mention.

Hope you enjoy Hong Kong - at least you know what you are letting yourself in for regarding the weather. (BTW, air conditioning in HK is mercyless and freezing, so although you won't need any kind of jacket/cardigan ever outside, you will need something for inside in restaurants etc!!)

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Philippat · 09/07/2002 15:47

There was research in 1998 linking air travel to SIDS (seems pretty inconclusive to me!) at stoke-on-Trent.

Link to BMJ at bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/316/7135/887?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=aircraft+baby&searchid=1026225374139_8495&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=1,2,3,4,10

hope that helps

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SofiaAmes · 09/07/2002 22:55

Sid, my brother and I were brought all over the world in utero and from a few months old through our entire childhoods and it never affected either of us from a health point of view. My parents are both scientists and are constantly reading all the current literature on all possible things that could befall a baby (as I have produced their first grandchild) and they have never suggested that I not take my son (now 18 mo.) on a plane. In fact we went to Jamaica (11 hours) when he was 2 months old with their blessing. And I have been on many long haul flights since with absolutely no problems. The descent doesn't even bother my son's ears. I'm sure the 5 year old and 3 year old will keep you plenty busy. 5 months is a great age to take a baby travelling...they are so much easier then than when they are crawling/walking/talking.

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angharad · 10/07/2002 11:04

Just more support for you going. We travel a lot and the 5 month old will probably adapt better than you and your DH....I second SofiaAmes opinion that long haul is easiest before they can walk/talk, make sure you book a skycot though as they get heavy on your arms. Is it worth pointing out tho the in-laws that as they are YOUR children you wouldn't dream of endagering your kids? Never been to Hong Kong but our lot really enjoyed Singapore.

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dejags · 11/07/2002 11:28

I don't have any idea where you could find evidence that flying doesn't harm babies.

I can say that I have flown with DS in utero, 4months and 8 months long haul with absolutely no problem - not even on the ascent and descent.

five months is a great age to travel with a baby because they aren't yet mobile.

Go with your own instinct and enjoy the wedding!

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MaggieW · 11/07/2002 13:54

I recently travelled solo with my 5 month old with no ill-effects to him (I was another matter, however!).

He drank more water and milk than usual on the flight - a combination of dehydration and not being able to sleep much, I guess - but everything else was as usual. I had Calpol, etc in my hand luggage in case of illness.

If you need it, it's worth requesting assistance when you make your booking. You won't get it if you turn up at check in and ask for it. It was invaluable for us (although terrible at Heathrow) esp at our stopover in Singapore.

Have a great holiday - your kids will love the experience and so, I hope, will you.

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Sid · 16/07/2002 11:39

Thank you very much for all your responses. it is very reassuring to know that others have done this without ill effects. We are definitely going ahead with it all - and will try to avoid the issue with the parents-in-law.

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bundle · 16/07/2002 11:47

Sid
just found this on the risk of transmission of infectious diseases(in Pulse, the doctors' magazine) for a piece I'm researching..re:air quality

"While there is a risk of transmission directly from person to person, there is no evidence to suggest that microorganisms are circulated aruond the cabin. Most modern aircraft are equipped with HEPA filter which are 99.99% effective at removing particles down to the size of viruses. Research confirms that the microorganism count is at or below the level found in the home"

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Sid · 10/09/2002 12:06

Just to say thanks for all those words of reassurance. We've been and come back and had a good time inbetween. I feel I should put a big star on my parenting CV! Everything went absolutely fine and the baby did better than the rest of us put together. Feel like doing a dance of triumph in front of my parents-in-law, but, in the interest of future family harmony, am being very restrained.

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