According to a new report published online by Pediatrics magazine, children should only be placed in car seats and car beds only when traveling and not use the devices as substitutes for cribs or other infant furniture in the home.
The study of 200 healthy, full-term newborns suggests that placing infants in car seats and car beds may expose them to a heightened risk of oxygen deprivation.
The research found that mean oxygen saturation among the infants studied decreased to 96.3 percent after only 60 minutes in car beds and to 95.7 percent after the same amount of time in car seats compared to 97.9 percent after 30 minutes in a standard hospital crib.
Dr. T. Bernard Kinand, an MD with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical Schools, says the study confirms that, “These safety devices should only be used for protection during travel and not as replacements for cribs.” He also said that the research “supports the notion that car beds and car seats need to be redesigned to limit respiratory compromise.”
Some pediatricians and neonatologists not involved with the research said that the study’s findings were not particularly surprising or concerning.
Ian R. Holzman is an MD and chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine at Mount Sinai’s School of Medicine. Holzman says, “Frankly, it doesn’t surprise me that some degree for airway obstruction and alteration of pulmonary dynamics occurs when young infants are placed in the sitting position.” He went on to characterize the instances of oxygen desaturattion caused by confinement in car seats as “relatively mild” and did not express concern that they would lead to long-term consequences.
The study’s authors, however claim that “even mild airway obstruction has been associated with behavioral problems and IQ deficits.” They claim that infant car beds and car seats are frequently used for extended durations and “for reasons other than travel.” They also recommended that car bed and car seat manufacturers consider modifying their products to lessen the adverse effects associated with their use.
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine associate professor, Dr. Iley Browning says, “There are people who have no baby beds and have their kids sleep in the car seat all the time.” He says that this is not a good choice and warns that the risks of decreased oxygen levels are higher for children are already suffering from ailments that affect their respiratory systems. Dr. Browning says, “Dropping oxygen levels are going to get worse when children have colds so you’re making your child worse by putting them in a car seat when they’re sick. And I guarantee that parents do this more when their child is sick.”
Despite their disagreements over the significance of the study, all parties agree that the results do not diminish the need for the devises which are vital in protecting young children from injury or death in the event of a collision.
The study, which was conducted by researchers in Slovenia and Boston, Massachusetts, was funded by Aprica, a Japanese manufacturer of car seats, strollers and other products for children and infants.