Teen gives birth on flight to New York

A 17-year-old wife of a Gambian diplomat has given birth to a child at 38,000 feet.

Fatawmatt Kaba gave birth to her son, Mamel Joella, in transit, on a 16-hour flight from South Africa to John F Kennedy Airport in New York.

She went into labour about four hours into the flight and "two pushes later", had given birth.

According to the New York Daily News, Kaba, aided by two doctors and a nurse who all happened to be on board, gave birth in front of awe-struck passengers on Saturday (Australian time).

"You could see his little umbilical cord still attached," passenger Jamahl Winters, 32, said.

"It's amazing. I didn't think stuff like that really happened in real life. I thought it was something that happened in TV and movies."

As soon as she went into labour, crew members helped her move to the front of the South African Airways plane.

The pilot called for any doctors on board, and thankfully of the three medical professionals there, one was paediatric anaesthesiologist Dr Julie Williamson.

"It was exhilarating," Williamson told the Daily News.

"While there was a lot of discussion whether to divert the flight, she made the decision for us by saying, 'Push!' And when we checked, the baby was crowning, and she delivered him in two pushes."

She said she nursed straightaway and Kaba never cried or screamed.

Paramedics met the plane at JFK airport when it landed and took Kaba and her son to the hospital.

They are both reported to be doing fine in the Jamaica Medical Centre. It is not known how far into the pregnancy Kaba was, but it is thought the baby was not born prematurely.

The baby would not be a US citizen according to United States law, because he was born outside US airspace.

- Fairfax NZ News/stuff.co.nz