Car child-seats: The hid­den dan­ger

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

HER­SHEY — A study of youngchild deaths in de­vices such as car seats, swings and baby-bounc­ers has ex­posed how most were caused by as­phyx­i­a­tion by im­proper po­si­tion­ing or stran­gu­la­tion in straps.

Par­tic­u­larly danger­ous, it claimed, were in­cor­rectly used car child safety-seats — though it em­pha­sised that a child in a cor­rectly ad­justed car seat “was in very lit­tle dan­ger”.

Us­ing th­ese de­vices as di­rected and not as a sub­sti­tute for a crib would re­duce the risk of death.

Use this ‘ABC’ The re­port’s lead au­thor, Erich Ba­tra of Penn State Col­lege of Medicine in Her­shey, Penn­syl­va­nia, said: “The over­ar­ch­ing ad­vice goes back to a more ba­sic mes­sage of safe sleep.”

He told Reuters Health. “For an in­fant, a safe sleep en­vi­ron­ment in­cludes the ABCS: they sleep

Alone, not in Bed be­tween par­ents, on their Back, or in a Crib or bassinet with­out any loose bed­ding.”

In­fants who fell asleep in one of the other de­vices, such as a car seat, he warned, should not be left unat­tended.

“In­fants should not be placed in th­ese de­vices for sleep.”

The re­searchers re­viewed re­ports of 47 chil­dren younger than two years that hap­pened in a car seat, bouncer, swing, stroller or sling and were recorded by the US Con- sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion be­tween 2004 and 2008.

Ba­tra ex­plained that this was not a com­plete data­base of all such events, only those re­ported by buy­ers or man­u­fac­tur­ers.

So, while they ap­peared to be rare, the study could not as­sess how of­ten they re­ally hap­pened.

About half of deaths in a car seat were due to stran­gu­la­tion by a strap; the other half by suf­fo­ca­tion due to po­si­tion­ing, the au­thors re­ported in The Jour­nal of Pae­di­atrics.

Ba­tra said car-seat stran­gu­la­tion usu­ally hap­pened when re­straints were not fas­tened as di­rected; when­ever a child was in a car seat the har­ness should be se­cured.

“If peo­ple leave an older in­fant or young tod­dler, in a car seat and undo the straps think­ing that it makes them more com­fort­able, that’s a sig­nif­i­cant haz­ard,” he said. “A child prop­erly se­cured in a car seat is in very lit­tle risk of dan­ger.”

Most com­mon set­ting Dr Shital Parikh, an or­thopaedic sur­geon at Cincin­nati Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Med­i­cal Cenre in Ohio, has stud­ied the risk fac­tors for in­jury in such de­vices in in­fants aged up to 12 months.

He also found a car child-seat to be the most com­mon set­ting.

“The most com­mon mech­a­nism of in­jury was caused by in­fants fall­ing from a car seat while it was NOT used in a car, but in the home,” Parikh told Reuters Health.

Of­ten par­ents would bring the car seat in the house while the in­fant still slept, undo the straps, and place it on an el­e­vated sur­face.

Even four-month-old ba­bies, Parikh warned, were mo­bile enough to wrig­gle out of the top straps and fall, or top­ple the whole seat, from an el­e­vated sur­face.

Death in as lit­tle as five

min­utes “Th­ese are very sim­ple things, very ba­sic things,” Parikh said. “The ba­sic idea is that you use (the de­vices) for their in­tended pur­pose only.

“For in­fants, you should not use it to make them sleep or carry them around if it’s not in­tended for that.”

Ba­tra added that most de­vices, used as di­rected, were rel­a­tively safe, but a baby in a sling needed to be “vis­i­ble and kiss­able” or the child’s head could end up in “a haz­ardous po­si­tion”.

Some deaths oc­curred af­ter as lit­tle as four or five min­utes of be­ing left alone. — Reuters.

A child-seat is in­dis­putably the only way to carry a baby in a car - but now a re­port has warned of the hid­den dan­ger.

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