Cot death fear for babies on long flights

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SOME babies taken on flights or mountain holidays may have their lives put at risk by the lack of oxygen, doctors reported yesterday.

A study of 34 infants exposed to air containing 6 per cent less oxygen than normal showed that four of them suffered a severe fall in blood oxygen level. In the other cases, blood oxygen was maintained at a slightly lower level than normal.

The researchers, led by Professor David Southall, from North Staffordshire Hospital Centre, Stoke-on-Trent, wrote in the British Medical Journal: "Exposure to airway hypoxia [poor oxygen supply] similar to that experienced during air travel or on holiday at high altitude may be harmful to some infants."

Oxygen deprivation has been associated with some cot-deaths.

The doctors carried out the study after two sets of parents attending their outpatient clinic said they had lost their babies through cot deaths after intercontinental flights.

A number of cot-deaths have been seen in Chinese infants whose families moved to the mountains of Tibet. This has been blamed on the fact that they are not genetically adapted to maintaining sufficient blood oxygen levels at high altitude.