Parents are being warned not to let babies sleep in car seats for long periods of time

Parents are being warned about the health risks of a baby sleeping in a car seat for long periods [Photo: Getty]

When it comes to choosing a car seat for a newborn, there’s no messing. Follow all the safety guidelines and seek advice from an expert to ensure your baby is snuggly safe. But despite sticking to the car seat regulations, parents are being warned not to allow babies to sleep in their car seats for long periods of time as it poses a risk to their health.  

Researchers at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust used a simulator in a laboratory to replicate the effects of a baby sleeping in a car seat during a car journey at 30mph.

The study found that after half an hour in the seat the amounts of oxygen in the blood of babies less than two months old were found to have dropped ‘significantly’ while their heart rates increased.

The problem is that newborn babies do not have the muscle tone to support their heads and sleeping in a car seat may push the baby’s head forward and block their airway. In really rare cases this could lead to death.

The study, funded by the Lullaby Trust with support from Southampton and Bristol universities, studied 40 infants overall, 19 healthy infants, and 21 pre-term infants, with an average age of 13 days and a weight of 5.5lb. They tested the heart and lung functions of the babies for a 30-minute simulated journey in a car seat at an upright 40 degree position, designed to vibrate as it would if in a car.

Reseachers explained that the experiment was stopped immediately if any of the children suffered ‘apnoea’ – struggling to breathe during sleep for more than 15 seconds, or if their blood oxygen levels dropped below 85 per cent for 20 seconds. Trained personnel with resuscitation equipment were also on hand during the tests.

[Photo: Getty]

Though further studies are needed to ensure the safety of newborns travelling in car seats, for now the research authors are keen to stress that parents should continue to practice car seat safety and ensure their baby travels in a properly secured child seat, as required by law. Car seats are still vastly safer than babies being carried in an adults arms, but the authors advise that an adult should sit next to the baby to make sure the infant is breathing properly.

Dr Renu Arya, consultant paediatrician at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who led the research project, said: “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.”

But it may be a good idea to rethink leaving a baby in a car seat for prolonged periods when they’re not travelling. Taking regular breaks when driving long distances is also recommended. As well as giving a baby a chance to move out of their car seat.

What do you think about the research? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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