While child car safety seats are a must for newborns riding in cars, the
seats can also cause a baby to experience breathing problems. Infants
have to be placed in an upright position when in a child safety seat.
However, according to a new study published in Pediatrics, this can cause
the baby’s chest wall to become compressed, decreasing airway size
and lowering oxygen levels in the blood.
T. Bernard Kinane, Massachusetts General Hospital’s chief of pulmonary
pediatrics, says that 20% of newborns that are placed in car beds and
car seats may experience mild respiratory compromise. This can increase
the chances that an infant will experience breathing problems.
The study examined 200 healthy newborns. Each baby was placed in a car
bed for 60 minutes, a hospital crib for 30 minutes, and a car seat for
60 minutes. The infants’ oxygen levels were lower when they were
in the car beds and car seats than when they were in the hospital cribs.
In a car seat, the babies’ average oxygen saturation level was 95.7%,
96.3% in a car bed, and 97.9% in a hospital crib.
This is important to note, as many parents will take the car seat out
the vehicle and let their babies sleep in them. Researchers are now telling
parents to only use car beds and car seats for travel and definitely not
as a replacement for a child’s bed.
While some physicians have said that the side effects are relatively mild
and long-term consequences are unlikely, Kinane is recommending that child
safety seat makers redesign infant car seats so that chest compression
doesn’t happen. He says that one way to do this is to install a
new seat back and new buckles so that the baby’s head can fall back.
Selena Silva, of the Child Passenger Safety Program at Children’s
Hospital, says that an infant car seat’s reclining angle should
be at around 45 degrees to keep the baby’s airway open and prevent
slumping. This angle has been crash-tested.
Child Safety Seats
The makers of child safety seats must make sure that their products are
safe for use. This means that the seats will ensure the greatest amount
of protection for babies and other young children during a car crash.
A child car safety seat should also not be designed in a way that could
cause a baby’s health to suffer. Manufacturers also need to warn
of any possible injuries or health issues that may result from use.
If you think your child was injured or became sick because of the way
a child car safety seat was designed, a car seat defect, or because the
child car safety seat malfunctioned, you may have grounds for filing a
products liability lawsuit.
Infant car seats can trim babies’ oxygen levels, CNN, August 24, 2009
nfant car seat no substitute for crib: study, CBC, August 24, 2009
Related Web Resources: Pediatrics Car Safety Seats: A Guide for Families 2009, American Academy of Pediatrics