Baby seat warning: Study shows new danger for infants

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Reports show that infants are at increased risk when in car seats for more than 30 minutes

A new study has discovered that newborn babies who are left in car seats for more than approximately 30 minutes could face detrimental breathing problems.

Conducted by Dr. Peter Fleming of Bristol University and funded by The Lullaby Trust, the study included the use of motion simulators to recreate the effects of placing a newborn baby into a car seat just as if they were heading home from the hospital after birth. After carrying out the pilot study, the researchers discovered a concerning increase in heart and breathing rates in infants who were strapped into rear-facing car seats. A total of 40 babies fewer than two months of age were placed at roughly a 40 degree angle in car seats, and travelled as such at 30mph for half an hour.

After completing his research studies on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Dr. Fleming was interested in the effects of car seats and newborns. Unfortunately, the study was halted several times due to concerns with the reactions of several of the infants.

One to two deaths per year in South West England

In the South West of England, Dr. Fleming indicated that there are one or two deaths per year of babies in car seats. He stresses that, “Half an hour is not an issue but beyond that we can’t say. So just think carefully of the length of your journey.”

“In the test, we found the babies’ blood oxygen saturation fell, suggesting breathing problems and increased heart rates.”

Despite these concerning findings, Professor Fleming stressed that young children should still travel properly secured in a child seat during all car journeys, which is required by law.

What are the laws for car seats in the UK?

There are a number of things to consider when it comes to having the correct car seat for children. Aside from age, both weight and height are important factors to keep in mind of. Here’s what the law says for car seats and booster seats:

  • Children under the age of 12 or taller than 135cm (whichever comes first) must use a car seat. Remember, that only car seats that you can use in the UK are those approved by the EU and also have a capital E in a circle on the label.
  • The safest way to place your babies’ car seat is rear facing because it provides the best protection for neck, head and vital organs.
  • When your child is approximately 15 months or weighs over 13kg, it’s recommended you use a forward facing seat, according to the i-Size regulation which was introduced in July 2013.
  • Parents are encouraged to ensure that the seat is the appropriate height, if you’re unsure you should check with the retailer you purchased the seat from.

Remember, if you’re ever unsure of how to properly fit your child’s car seat or booster seat, you can check with gov.uk for the latest information.

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