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Airplanes May Get Safer With Child-Sized Medication and Equipment

Oct. 24, 2018
2 min read
Airplanes May Get Safer With Child-Sized Medication and Equipment
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Finally, planes may be required to stock their emergency medical kits with child-sized equipment and doses.

The Airplane Kids In Transit Safety Act was folded into the recently adopted 2018 reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, which is good for five years. As previously reported by TPG, the same bill requires large and medium sized airports to set aside private lactation rooms for nursing mothers along with changing tables in both men's and women's restrooms.

Though the details have to be worked out, the bill requires the FAA to outline what medications and equipment must be included “to meet the emergency medical needs of children.” One example cited by the sponsors of the requirement is child-scaled, auto-inject doses of epinephrine, which is used to immediately counteract extreme allergic reactions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics had advocated for the requirement.

"Currently, the emergency medical kits on airplanes are not designed with children's needs in mind–they lack the right medications in an appropriate dose and formulation and the equipment is too large to fit a child,” said Colleen Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics in a prepared statement. The Airplane KITS Act addresses that problem by requiring the FAA to review and update the contents of the emergency medical kits on planes, which is something that hasn’t been done in almost 20 years. Families will soon be able to rest a little easier knowing that if their child experiences an in-flight emergency, like a seizure, asthma attack or allergic reaction, the right drugs and equipment will be on board.”

Medical emergencies occur on about one of every 604 flights, according to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, though that is an estimate, as airlines are not required to report such incidents.

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While the average age of a person with an inflight medical emergency is 48, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control, emergencies involving children do happen. In a time period studied by the CDC, the youngest patient was only 14 days old. Fainting, respiratory distress, nausea and cardiac issues are the most common problems.

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