Coroner Warns That Car Seats Can Kill Sleeping Babies
A coroner is warning parents against allowing their infants to sleep in car seats for prolonged periods because of the high risk of death by asphyxiation.
Following the inquiry into the death of a two-month old boy in Quebec, whose mother put him in a car seat in the bassinette overnight because it calmed him, the coroner concluded that infants do not have the strength to sustain their heads or necks when reclining at an angle for hours on end.
Properly installed infant car seats are set at a precise angle, usually 45 degrees, to balance head support against safety in a collision.
But more than a couple of hours sitting at any angle is too much for a newborn, Dr. Robinson said.
"A baby sitting, or semi-sitting, even at an angle of 30 degrees, does not have the strength to keep his head straight, and it's easy for his airway to be blocked."
Babies are ok in car seats for a couple of hours, but should never be left in them overnight and during long car trips breaks should be taken to allow the infant to stretch and be in a different position for a while.
The coroner's office looked at records of sudden infant death syndrome from the past 15 years and concluded that up to 20 deaths could have been caused by the child being in a sitting or reclined position. Doctors urge parents to avoid potential causes of SIDS by putting infants down in their own, firm beds with no objects or blankets around - and to keep the car seats where they belong, in the car.