Car seats can still pose shak­ing risk to in­fants

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FAMILY TIES -

NEW­BORN in­fants may be at risk of breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties if left in car safety seats for long pe­ri­ods, par­tic­u­larly when trav­el­ling, ac­cord­ing to new re­search sup­ported by the Uni­ver­sity of Southamp­ton.

The study, funded by the Lul­laby Trust, is the first to carry out a ‘car seat chal­lenge’ for new­born in­fants in a sim­u­lated mov­ing car seat ( right), with the full re­sults pub­lished in the jour­nal Ar­chives of Dis­ease in Child­hood.

Re­searchers from the Hu­man Fac­tors Re­search Unit at the Uni­ver­sity of Southamp­ton’s In­sti­tute for Sound and Vi­bra­tion Re­search de­signed, built and tested a mo­tion sim­u­la­tor to re­pro­duce ver­ti­cal vi­bra­tion, sim­i­lar to that at the base of a car safety seat in a rear-fac­ing po­si­tion in the back of a small fam­ily car.

The sim­u­la­tor re­pro­duced the ver­ti­cal vi­bra­tions from trav­el­ling at 30mph (about 48.28kmph) on a straight ur­ban road, with­out brak­ing, ac­cel­er­a­tion or go­ing over bumps.

Most UK hos­pi­tals re­quire pre­ma­ture in­fants to com­plete the chal­lenge be­fore they are dis­charged.

In­fants are then ob­served for breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties or changes in their -heart rate while in a car seat.

How­ever, the test does not take into ac­count the more up­right po­si­tion in a car, or the vi­bra­tion of the seat when the car is mov­ing.

This study, car­ried out at the Great West­ern Hos­pi­tals NHS Foun­da­tion Trust with fur­ther sup­port from the Uni­ver­sity of Bris­tol, is the first to as­sess the ef­fect of mo­tion on in­fants and to repli­cate the an­gle of the rear seat of a small fam­ily car.

The test al­lowed the team to look at how the vi­bra­tions af­fected ba­bies’ heart and lung func­tions. They dis­cov­ered that both full-term and pre-term ba­bies showed sig­nif­i­cant signs of po­ten­tially neg­a­tive car­diores­pi­ra­tory ef­fects.

Dr Renu Arya, Con­sul­tant Pae­di­a­tri­cian, Great West­ern Hos­pi­tals NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, who led the re­search project added: “Parents should not stop us­ing car safety seats to trans­port their in­fants. In­fants must be pro­tected in mov­ing ve­hi­cles, and UK law re­quires car seats be used when­ever in­fants travel in cars.

“How­ever, our find­ings sup­port the AAP (Amer­i­can Academy of Pae­di­atrics) guide­line that in­fant car seats should not be used as a rou­tine in­fant sleep en­vi­ron­ment.”

Francine Bates, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Lul­laby Trust, said the find­ings pro­vided cause for con­cern and ad­vised pants to­keep a watch­ful eye on ba­bies trav­el­ling in a car seat.

“We rec­om­mend that parents also avoid driv­ing long dis­tances with­out a break,” she said.

“How­ever, avoid­ing the risk of in­jury due to a road traf­fic ac­ci­dent is paramount and fit­ted car seats should al­ways be used to trans­port ba­bies and tod­dlers.

“It is clear that fur­ther re­search is needed to ex­plore what more we can do to en­sure ba­bies are safe and com­fort­able when trav­el­ling in a car seat and we will be con­ven­ing an ur­gent sum­mit of lead­ing child car seat man­u­fac­tur­ers to take this for­ward.”

Other com­mon car seat guide­lines for parents in­clude:

Limit baby’s time in the car seat. Be­ing in a semi-up­right po­si­tion for a con­sid­er­able length of time may place a strain on stillde­vel­op­ing spines.

Only use the car seat in the car. Ba­bies are safest when placed on their backs. Do not leave them in the seat for pro­longed pe­ri­ods.

Make sure you can see the baby. If you no­tice your baby fall asleep, you should keep an eye on the in­fant and the po­si­tion he or she in.

Use a safe baby car seat. It’s al­ways bet­ter to spend a lit­tle more and en­sure your baby is sat safely – have a look at the car seats that have been tried and tested.

Keep an eye on the tem­per­a­ture. Make sure your baby doesn’t get too hot in the car seat as he or she may over­heat, which is one of the pos­si­ble causes of SIDS. If you no­tice the tem­per­a­ture has risen within the car, pull over as soon as pos­si­ble and check how hot the baby feels. – Uni­ver­sity of Southamp­ton Malaysia

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