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Is it safe to fly with a 2-week-old?

Asked by Jasmine, San Diego, California

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Is it safe to fly with a 2-week-old?

Expert Bio Picture

Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. Many parents ask me about traveling with their newborns or young infants for family events such as weddings or work obligations planned long before their baby was born. From a purely medical standpoint, healthy term babies generally are OK to fly after the first week or two, but be sure that your baby falls into this category before starting your trip. Your pediatrician will want to make sure the baby doesn't have any heart problems or jaundice and is feeding well. And although commercial airliners are pressurized and the oxygen level in the cabin carefully controlled during flight, premature infants' lungs may be more sensitive to the effects of high-altitude travel; therefore, they should fly (or visit areas of higher altitude) with greater caution.

The problem with being on a plane or in any enclosed space with lots of other people is that germs can spread very easily. While getting the sniffles as an adult is more of a nuisance than anything else, babies who get a cold stand to become seriously ill quickly, especially in the first few months of life. Fevers in newborns need to be taken seriously and require not only the involvement of health professionals but also the possibility of tests and treatment. In general, avoiding crowds and sick people in particular is definitely in your baby's best interest. However, if you do fly with your baby, remember to be extra dedicated to hand washing or sanitizing, and try to shield your baby from any direct contact with the coughs or sneezes of obviously ill travelers.

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