Is it safe to fly during my pregnancy?

Alexander Kofinas M.D.

For all practical purposes, the answer to this question is yes. However, some concerns have been raised regarding exposure to cosmic radiation as well as clotting and dehydration during the course of a flight. Regarding exposure to cosmic radiation, the available studies were poorly conducted and dealt only with flight attendants and frequent flyers. There is no evidence to suggest that occasional air travel increases the risk of health problems to the fetus. Because pregnancy increases the affinity for clot formation, the immobile nature of long flights may lead to blood clots in the legs. This condition may in turn be aggravated by the low humidity level in the cabin, leading to dehydration, which in turn leads blood thickening and clot formation. However, if patients make sure to keep themselves hydrated by drinking water and avoiding alcohol consumption, as well as getting up from their seats ever 1-2 hours they should not experience any problem. It is also important to note that any pregnancy, including those identified as low-risk, may spontaneously develop into a high-risk pregnancy. If this were to occur during a flight, it could potentially pose a threat to the baby. However, this can happen anywhere and flying certainly does not increase the probabilities of it occurring.