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Children getting sick post-travel

Children getting sick post-travel

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Old May 4, 09, 12:05 am
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Children getting sick post-travel

I'm curious...how many of you have a child that you believe got sick as a result of taking a flight? I don't mean "got worn down by travel and then got sick", but actually picked up a bug from an airplane surface or a passenger cough/sneeze?

TinyDancer took 16 flight segments in her 1st 7 months, and got sick after the very last one because (I believe) she wasn't strapped into her car seat (it was a completely full WN flight) and was at the stage where she had her hands on everything. I wiped down the hard surfaces as best I could, but there was little I could do about the soft ones. I'm pretty sure it was related to this flight, since she had never been sick until then, hadn't had her schedule terribly disrupted by the trip, and hadn't been very close to/handled by any obviously sick people.

Any recommendations for dealing with this in the future?
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Old May 4, 09, 10:01 am
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You had a child who was not sick in the first seven months of their life? Cound yourself lucky.

Children get sick, you can't avoid it. Why does it matter where they picked up the germs? They just do, and wait until your little one starts school and that breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and other crud.

We all grew up just fine without constant sanitizing and antibacterial wipes, and your child needs to be exposed to things to develop immunities. Just continue on with your precautions and be prepared to deal with some illnesses.
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Old May 4, 09, 12:02 pm
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Why does it matter where they picked up the germs?
If you knew how to prevent your kid from getting sick, wouldn't you do what it takes?

BTW, I think she's been exposed to PLENTY in her first 8.5 months. Fortunately, I think for her age, her immune system is pretty strong.

Also, my husband's and my livelihood depends on our ability to speak coherently in front of large audiences, answer questions, and do heavy mental lifting on a day-to-day basis. I *need* to go the extra mile to keep the kid healthy so that hubby and I stay healthy as well. I don't see what's so objectionable about this.

We all grew up just fine
If you mean, "made it to adulthood", then yes. I could have done without the dozens of upper respiratory infections I had as a child.
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Old May 4, 09, 12:06 pm
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Sounds like a coincidence to me.

You're very lucky your baby didn't get sick for the first 7 months.
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Old May 4, 09, 1:05 pm
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Getting sick from exposure in an airplane is fairly common - the longer the flight and closer you are seated to the sick person - the more likely the exposure.
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Old May 4, 09, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by icedancer View Post
If you knew how to prevent your kid from getting sick, wouldn't you do what it takes?

BTW, I think she's been exposed to PLENTY in her first 8.5 months. Fortunately, I think for her age, her immune system is pretty strong.

Also, my husband's and my livelihood depends on our ability to speak coherently in front of large audiences, answer questions, and do heavy mental lifting on a day-to-day basis. I *need* to go the extra mile to keep the kid healthy so that hubby and I stay healthy as well. I don't see what's so objectionable about this.



If you mean, "made it to adulthood", then yes. I could have done without the dozens of upper respiratory infections I had as a child.
Where did I say this was objectionable? You have totally missed the point. This must be your first and only child.

You can't keep your child safe and protected always; you seem to be doing your best. They will get sick no matter what you do and as a parent, you will be prevented in the future from going on vacation, going to work, etc. because your child is ill, or you have become ill from something your child brought home. Just a reality of parenting.

It will indeed get worse when baby goes to school and has encounters with loads of those germ infested beings we call other children.

If you have certain medical concerns, certainly discuss these with your pediatrician who can probably offer better advice than a chat board.
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Old May 4, 09, 2:11 pm
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Originally Posted by icedancer View Post
Also, my husband's and my livelihood depends on our ability to speak coherently in front of large audiences, answer questions, and do heavy mental lifting on a day-to-day basis. I *need* to go the extra mile to keep the kid healthy so that hubby and I stay healthy as well. I don't see what's so objectionable about this.
My livelihood depends upon opening up people's heads and operating on their brains. I've come to accept that I will occasionally pick up a bug from my son and feel miserable for a few days. There is no getting around this unless you and your family live in a plastic bubble (which is certainly not possible if commercial air travel is involved).
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Old May 4, 09, 2:48 pm
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in addition to wiping down the hard surfaces, we place a bedsheet on foreign surfaces. I agree while kids need to and will get exposure to germs there's no advantage to not taking the precautions you can
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Old May 4, 09, 3:11 pm
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You now have a mobile baby and it's hard to keep her away from germs. She is no longer content to just sit in her car seat and it would be unnatural and cruel to force her to do so.

It's too easy to pick up bugs on airplanes. So many people crammed in together. You can wipe down every surface in view but it would be impossible to sheild her from everything. Every time you touch a seat back or open the lav door, you are touching surfaces that others have just touched and touch is the best route of transmission.

I was so upset when I had my first baby and went back to work. Because of my funky Flight Attendant schedule, he had to go to two different daycares. Talk about picking up every bug doing the rounds! I thought it would kill him. He was constantly sick. Yes, he was breastfed, even after my return to work. I'd take off my uniform and make sure he didn't have contact with any of my flight stuff but I couldn't keep him from the contact with all those other children.

My nurse mom got on the bandwagon and sent me all sorts of articles on how getting sick a lot doesn't do any long-term damage to children, how daycares can cause kids to get sick but that long term, they're okay, etc. The other moms too would chuckle and tell me "Either now or when they start school..."

Even with a healthy immune system, if she is exposed to something that she doesn't have immunities too, it's hard for her system to entirely fight it off. While my son was often sick, he was never very sick. No hospital stays. I did ask the ped to do some blood work and all it rendered was a slight iron deficiency. We never had any scary moments. It became more of a headache, than a real health issue.

Only rarely did I get what he had and it usually showed up much differently (still the case), either worse or better, often with slightly different symptoms. Remember too, working on airplanes, I can't say for certain that I didn't pick stuff up there. Honestly, I may have called in sick once with something he gave me but it certainly didn't affect my job. Remember too, Flight Attendants cannot go to work with runny noses and red eyes. It's not like a desk job where you can hole yourself in your cubicle with a box of tissues (wish I could have sometimes!)

Something like 20% of passengers get sick in the two weeks after flying. No way am I going to back up that fact but I've heard it several times and my mom's boss (a generalist) concurs. He's bilingual and has a lot of immigrant patients who travel long haul a lot. He tells me he sees a lot of sick people in his office after their adventures.

Airplanes are basically just germ nests. I got sick a lot when I first got the job and took care to not touch my face until I had washed my hands (easier said than done when you have an itch!) But I spent 13 years on them and lived to tell the tale...

It did taper off and get better with my son. He's now almost 10 and has never had any health concerns or growth issues. He doesn't get sick any more often than the other children in his class.

What I will warn you about is now that she's getting bigger, she's soon going to be less "transportable". Just another reality of parenting and travel. So between concerns about sickness, she will soon be jumping out of strollers and running wherever... I have no idea how your work is organized but you may want to look into other arrangements for her later on. There are plenty of solutions but some need to be signed up and budgeted ahead of time.

Good luck!
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Old May 4, 09, 4:16 pm
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Originally Posted by 6rugrats View Post
Where did I say this was objectionable? You have totally missed the point. This must be your first and only child.
When I asked the original question, I was being serious and looking for serious responses (i.e. the bedsheet suggestion), not some snotty version of "suck it up"

For those who were curious, we have an at-home nanny for our child (in lieu of daycare) and virtually all of the children she plays with are also cared for by stay-at-home moms or nannies. I think that has cut down on a lot of illness. Some of the toddlers in our playgroup have never been sick, and they're out and about plenty. They share toys all the time. I guess we have been lucky.
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Old May 4, 09, 4:49 pm
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Why are you so defensive?

I don't think the average person would read my response as "snotty". Rather merely pointing out the fact, as I've already said, that you cannot keep your child from becoming sick. I have several children of my own, think I know what I am talking about, and already told you, it appears you are doing everything you can.

What more were you looking for?
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Old May 4, 09, 5:13 pm
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I took it as snotty because this:

Why does it matter where they picked up the germs? They just do
comes off as completely dismissive. I'm going to be totally defensive about my *right to care* what my child might be getting sick from.

I'm going to guess (and you'll probably concur) that as people have more kids, they get less and less worried about the things that they were worried about with the first. Well, I'm not there yet, as you can see.
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Old May 4, 09, 5:45 pm
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Originally Posted by icedancer View Post
I took it as snotty because this:



comes off as completely dismissive. I'm going to be totally defensive about my *right to care* what my child might be getting sick from.

I'm going to guess (and you'll probably concur) that as people have more kids, they get less and less worried about the things that they were worried about with the first. Well, I'm not there yet, as you can see.
And that's fine; I did not mean to sound dismissive.

I am not sure you worry less; you just realize you don't have the control over things that you thought you did. You also sometimes change your mind about what you think is really important, especially after perhaps a health crisis that puts all the little sniffles into perspective.

Hope Tinydancer's cold is better.
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Old May 4, 09, 6:39 pm
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Originally Posted by 6rugrats View Post
I am not sure you worry less; you just realize you don't have the control over things that you thought you did. You also sometimes change your mind about what you think is really important, especially after perhaps a health crisis that puts all the little sniffles into perspective.
This is so true. We have been dealing with some health issues with our youngest Daughter who is 7. I would love for the sniffles to be our biggest concern for her.....

We also had a nanny who cared for our children in our home. They still got sick sometimes. If and when you have another child, the older one will bring things home to the younger one. At some point they will go to preschool or elementary school. If they haven't been sick before then, they will be.
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Old May 4, 09, 7:23 pm
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Firstly, I'm sorry that your baby was sick....it's awful to see them feeling bad, and of course just makes the job of parenting that much harder. Perhaps it was coincidence or perhaps she did pick something up from the plane. It's impossible to know, really, and she's getting to the age where she's going to be more mobile and more exposed to germs no matter where she is. Like your's, my child was never sick until about 9 months of age. At that point, she had two mild colds and two minor diarrhea illness almost back to back. It's really just a function of the age they're at; they're moving around and curious, touching everything, trying to put everything in the mouth. But it does serve a purpose. The more every-day germs she's exposed to, the more ever-day illnesses she'll be immune to. It's natural vaccination, minus the painful shots and questionable ingredients!

As parents, it's tough to fight the urge to bleach and Purell everything in sight to prevent it...but really, she'll be missing out if she doesn't have this exposure to the world at this point in life. The thymus gland, which manufactures T-cells, is functioning at it's highest in the first two years of life if I'm remembering my old A&P lectures correctly. The t-cells her body makes now will remain with her throughout her life...so really it's no accident that the time which kids are getting grubby and most exposed to everything around them is also the time at which this important component of her immune system is forming. Kind of fascinating, really.

But none of that helps you when you have a sick kid, I know! In reality, the small and few studies done on transmission of airborne illnesses on planes show that it's really not as bad as we typically assume. This begs the question of why people often complain of getting sick after flying. My personal theory is that it's due to the near obscene dryness of the cabin air. The mucous in the mucous membranes in the nasal passages is really the first line of defense against airborne illnesses. It traps germs and allergens and dust and keeps it from entering the cells in the nasal passages. When the ambient air is so dry, this mucous dries up no matter how much water you drink. With that first line of defense gone, you're at greater risk of getting sick until that mucous has regenerated itself. As a flight attendant, I suffered from chronic sinusitis and allergies for a few years after starting my job, when I'd previously been rarely sick. I tried everything and complained to my GP and went to a couple of different ENT's and allergists. Nothing worked until I started thinking about how bone dry I'd often feel by the end of a long trip. Once I started regularly using a saline spray on board and using a neti pot after a long drying flight, I stopped getting sick. It's been years now since I've had a sinus or other upper respiratory problem, and that's the only thing I changed.

We fly with our 11 month old daughter often, and I always give her a spritz of saline if we're doing a long flight or have multiple legs in a day. She's never been sick after flying, and her two colds were during a long period on the ground. Perhaps it's a coincidence, perhaps not, but it doesn't hurt and certainly increases her comfort level in any case.

Sorry for the epic account, but that's my tip. Good luck in the future.
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