In the wake of a Portsmouth mother getting kicked off of an American Airlines flight after her toddler refused to wear a mask, some public health experts are questioning whether very young children need them.
Dr. Keith Loud, the physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, says young children are still a lower risk for COVID-19 transmission.
“It's quite clear there are no organizations of which I am aware that recommend children under the age of 2 wearing a mask,” Loud said. “In fact, we say under the age of 2 we say they should not wear a mask.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for American Airlines doubled down on their policy, saying all passengers 2 years and older must wear a face mask. The airline says they've contacted the Portsmouth family about the incident.
Still, mask policies vary. Rachel Starr Davis, the child’s mother, says conflicting mandates make this decision even more difficult.
“The rules are different everywhere,” Davis said in an interview with NHPR. “Whether it’s outside or inside or trains and buses, why are there so many different policies? It’s very hard to navigate that.”
According to Davis’ Instagram post, this was her fourth American Airlines trip that week. On all other American Airline flights, she says staff did not ask her young son to wear a mask. She was heading to Manchester from Charlotte, North Carolina.
The CDC recommends all people 2 years old and older wear a mask in public.The family’s hometown of Portsmouth recently passed a mask mandate that excludes masks for children under 6 years old. And at the state level, masks are only required for gatherings more than 100 people.