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Airline Pregnancy Fever

British Airways is in a bit of a bind or rather in a delicate position. Hundreds of British Airways flight attendants have been grounded after an rash of pregnancies.

CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Mark McEwen asks British Airways press officer Heather Harris and ground crew attendant Kay Livingston about the cause of the trend.



"How does this happen?" declares Harris. "If people don't know that by now, there is something wrong with them."

The mums-to-be get quite bit of teasing from colleagues asking if they just wanted to make sure they get the time off over the millennium, Livingston says.

"We['ve] all been saying it's a bit of an extreme way to get off the millennium to have a baby. You know, 18 years of no sleep and responsibility," says Harris.

Still pregnancy rates are up 30 percent over last year's and all the babies are due around the New Year.

"We're blaming it on all sorts of things. The weather was bad in the spring time and there was nothing on the television," Harris says.

Livingston says millennium fever was not the impetus in her case. "We deliberately didn't want to have a millennium baby because I thought of all the problems that might entail. But then nature always has its way in the end," she says.

So what does this mean for British Airways' staffing? The airline's policy is that once an attendant becomes pregnant, she cannot fly until after the child is born. So all the pregnant attendents were grounded immediately for safety reasons.

The airline has not yet had to train new or extra people to cover the grounded flight crews, but it has had to pull from the ranks of emergency staff and call up standby flight attendants to fill in the gap.

There could be a problem in the future, however, when British Airways' past return-to-work rate is considered, Harris says.

Attendants usually take a break for a couple of years because the high rate of travel appears to be unsuitable for many women during the first few years of their new babies' lives, she says.

For now the flight attendants say they are on the receiving end of a tremendous amount of comment from passengers as well as from airline staff.

"People are noticing there's some sort of epidemic. All [the] single people are getting worried it might be catchy," Harris quips.

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