Alert over babies asleep in child car seatsLives at risk if left unsupervised

08 December 2006

Babies lives could be at risk if they're left to sleep in car seats unsupervised for long periods, scientists warned today.

Unattended infants could be at risk of breathing difficulties such as apnoea - where breathing briefly stops - while restrained in a specialist seat for prolonged periods of time according to the report.

Nine babies affected were described as going 'blue',  appearing 'scrunched up' and 'not breathing'.

The study, carried out by scientists in New Zealand and published in the British Medical Journal, looked at babies referred to the Auckland Cot Monitoring Service between July 1999 and December 2000.

The nine babies - aged between three days and six months - had been left to sleep while restrained in a car seat.

Breathing problems

When the scene was reconstructed, scientists found the children's heads bent forward with the jaw pressed on the chest, narrowing the airway and causing breathing problems.

Professor Alistair Gunn, Associate Professor at the Departments of Physiology and Paediatrics, University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand, said parents should not leave babies for 'excessive periods' in car seats.

But he said modifying seats to stop a child's head bending forward could help.

'Infant car safety seats are vital to protect young infants from injury and death in motor vehicle accidents.

"However, infants with certain health conditions are at risk of oxygen de-saturation and apnoea - temporary suspension of breathing - while they are restrained in recommended semi-reclining infant car seats.'

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