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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Car seat danger to new babies
Children in car seats
New-born babies should spend as little time as possible in car seats
Parents should limit the number of journeys they take their new-born babies on.

Scientists in America have found that new-born and particularly premature babies can develop breathing problems from sitting for too long in car seats.

As well as being used for car transport the seats are commonly used to carry around babies and to secure them in their pushchairs and even on supermarket trolleys.

But problems arise because the reflexes which keep the babies head upright and their breathing normal are still not full developed.

Car seats should only be used for travel and that should be minimised

Dr Robert Dinwiddie, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London

Oxygen problems

The report in the American Academy of Paediatrics said car seat use should be kept to a minimum for the first three months of life.

The scientists studied 100 babies and found that they were extremely susceptible to oxygen problems.

Some of the new born babies developed breathing problems after an hour in the car seats and that some of the premature babies even stopped breathing for a short period.

The report said: "Although car seats are often used as carriers for new-born infants, our data indicates that pre-term and term new-borns should not remain in car seats for extended periods of time when they are not travelling."

It is already recommended in the US that travel is minimised for premature babies and the new data suggests that full-term new borns (those born at or around 39 to 40 weeks) would also benefit from this.

The say parents transporting babies in car seats should monitor them as closely as possible to be alert for any possible breathing problems.

The study by doctors at the Children's Hospital in St Paul and the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, also warned about not using other baby equipment which necessitated babies sitting upright during their first few months of life.

"In addition, the use of swings and other types of upright seating devices should be uniformly discouraged during the first months of life."

Minimal use

Dr Robert Dinwiddie, consultant respiratory paediatrician at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, said parents should ensure new babies spent as little time as possible in their car seats to avoid breathing problems.

"The baby should use the car seat if travelling, but should not be in any longer than necessary and should not be in it for any length of time.

"Car seats should only be used for travel and that should be minimised."

See also:

29 Jun 00 | UK
Rise in child road deaths
07 Feb 01 | UK
The child safety catch
06 Feb 01 | Health
Britain 'safe for children'
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