The number of births during an airplane flight has increased over the past ten years. More than half of these deliveries are done without the assistance of health professionals.
Is there a doctor on the plane? The question is asked passengers in case of discomfort in the cabin, but also more and more frequently in case of ... delivery in full flight! Between 1929 and 2018, 74 babies were born in aircraft carrying commercial flights and in 26% of cases the flight was diverted for this urgent reason. Two of these babies died shortly after giving birth.
These figures of births known during commercial flights have just been revealed by the Journal of Travel Medicine. They show that, although these events are not so frequent, they are never trivial and that they seem to be increasing for about ten years, obviously in connection with the development of air transport.
"Insufficient" medical kits
This poses the problem of the possible systematic presence on board of medical professionals' devices. Because the study of the Journal of Travel Medicine shows that of these 74 births, medical assistance was provided in less than one out of every two cases by doctors, nurses or aircrew, the latter most often in a great improvisation! And the JTM study emphasizes that medical kits for first aid on board are most often "exhausted and insufficient" in case of delivery in flight.
The babies born in the sky were 10% of them in the last two weeks of gestational age, which varies from 25 to 38 weeks, 16% in the last four weeks, 19% approximately one month before the term and 12% before the gestational age of 32 weeks.