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Air Travel during Pregnancy

Commercial air travel poses no special risks to a healthy pregnant woman or her fetus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that women with healthy, single pregnancies can fly safely up to 36 weeks’ gestation.

The lowered cabin pressure (kept at the equivalent of 5,000–8,000 ft [about 1,500–2,400 m]) has minimal effect on fetal oxygenation because of the favorable fetal hemoglobin-oxygen dynamics. If supplemental oxygen is required during flight because of preexisting medical conditions, arrangements for oxygen need to be made in advance. Severe anemia, sickle-cell disease or trait, or history of thrombophlebitis are relative contraindications to flying. Pregnant women with placental abnormalities or risks for premature labor should avoid air travel.

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