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Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2010 Jun;65(6):396-402. doi: 10.1097/OGX.0b013e3181e572ae.

Air travel and pregnancy outcomes: a review of pregnancy regulations and outcomes for passengers, flight attendants, and aviators.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arkansas for the Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


To review flight regulations and gestational complications associated with air travel in pregnant passengers, flight attendants, and aviators. A literature search was undertaken on the relationship of air travel and spontaneous pregnancy losses, intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD), birth weight<10th percentile, preterm delivery, and neonatal intensive care unit admissions. The literature search identified 128 abstracts, of which 9 evaluated air travel and pregnancy outcomes. The risk of a pregnancy loss (spontaneous abortion or IUFD) was greater in flight attendants than controls (odds ratio [OR]: 1.62, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.29, 2.04). The risk of preterm birth<37 weeks was greater in passengers than controls (OR: 1.44, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.93). However, the risk of preeclampsia (OR: 0.86, 95% CI: 0.58, 1.27), neonatal intensive care unit admissions (OR: 1.19, 95% CI: 0.78, 1.82), or birth weight<10th percentile (OR: 1.25, 95% CI: 0.62, 2.48) was not increased. Flight attendants did not have an increased risk of preterm birth compared to controls (OR: 1.37, 95% CI: 0.85, 2.22) or delivering infants with birth weight<10th percentile (OR: 1.57, 95% CI: 0.68, 3.74). The risks of spontaneous abortions and other adverse pregnancy outcomes have been poorly studied in a limited number of investigations. An analysis of the available information suggests a greater risk of spontaneous abortions or IUFD in flight attendants, and a greater risk of preterm birth<37 weeks in air passengers. However, the literature on which these findings are based is generally not of high methodologic quality.

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