To sedate or not to sedate infants for air travel, that is an oft-raised question.Is it truly nobler to spurn sedatives, risk an unruly child, and bravely suffer the heartaches of stares and scorn of outraged fellow passengers?This dry feeling results from air conditioning removing most of the moisture from the cabin air.At cruising altitudes, the air in stomachs and intestines of all passengers is already expanded by 20%, the result of lower atmospheric pressure.
That so few infants cry in flight is actually surprising considering that air travel disrupts their sleep and feeding schedules, they rest in unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable positions, and, if they are on a lap, are disturbed every time the parent moves. Medicating infants solely to please parents and other passengers goes against the grain of modern medical ethics. (Though there is a counter argument: If we knew infants are crying because of abdominal cramps or earaches most doctors and parents would medicate to relieve the discomfort.)Our surveys indicate that infants who do cry are generally the same ones who cry excessively at home, and often at about the same hours on the clock.For children requiring antihistamines for allergies, a non-sedating antihistamine such as loratadine or cetirizine is preferred.Cetirazine (zyrtec) is approved for infants over 6mo at a dose of 1/2 tsp/day with additional dosing for older infants.A flight attendant was later charged with assault for allegedly putting a prescription depressant in a 19-month-old girl’s apple juice to stop her crying.