Car safety seats should never be used to put a baby to sleep. That’s the warning for parents after the recent death of an infant in Quebec.
The mother of the 2-month-old baby had put him to sleep in a car seat after he woke up crying early one morning. An hour later when she checked on him she realized that he had stopped breathing.
This issue received attention in 2006. An article in the British Medical Journal reported on the similar death of nine infants.
The problem is that infants do not have well developed head control. The researchers found that a baby’s head may slump forward while sleeping in a car seat. As a result the baby’s jaw presses against his or her chest.
This position narrows the airway and makes it hard to breathe. The throat muscles also relax during sleep. This increases the risk of airway closure. Research confirms that oxygen saturation can drop in both pre-term and full-term infants riding in car seats.
Another study in 2008 examined 17 deaths that occurred in a car seat or other type of sitting device. It found that the risk of death may be higher for infants less than 1 month of age.
In a 2002 statement the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infant car seats should recline at a 45-degree angle. This will help prevent the baby from slumping forward.
Parents should try to avoid long rides with an infant in the car. During a car ride an adult should sit next to the baby to monitor his or her breathing.
Parents also should ensure that their child’s car safety seat is installed correctly. The NHTSA reports that child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants.