Car Seats Can Lead to Decreased Oxygen in Newborns
Car seats were designed for transporting babies in cars. Often they are used as a substitute for real cribs.
Lilijana Kornhauser Cerar, MD and colleagues have published the results of a study online in Pediatrics which showed healthy term newborns can decrease their oxygen levels sitting in both car beds and car seats. The mean minimal oxygen saturation level was lower while in both safety devices (83.7% for the car bed and 83.6% for the car seat) compared with in the hospital crib (87.4%).
The study looked at a consecutive series of 200 newborns was recruited on the second day of life. Each subject was studied while placed in the hospital crib (30 minutes), car bed (60 minutes), and car seat (60 minutes).
It was noted that the mean oxygen saturation declined significantly following 60 minutes in a car bed (96.3%) and 60 minutes in a car seat (95.7%), compared with 30 minutes in a hospital crib (97.9%).
Newborn infants do not have enough strength to straighten their heads or hold their heads up. When placed in a sitting position often there is respiratory compromise due to airway obstruction and alteration of pulmonary dynamics.
The study supports the notion that car beds and car seats need to be redesigned to limit respiratory compromise. Until then it is important that parents should use these safety devices only for protection during travel and not as replacements for cribs.
Care should be taken in how the infant is placed in the car seat. Watch the head and neck position.
Kornhauser CL, et al "A comparison of respiratory patterns in healthy term infants placed in car safety seats and beds" Pediatrics 2009; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-0160.