Thursday, August 16, 2012

Car Seats Belong in Cars.

And other reasons you shouldn't use a car seat as a baby carrier...

 
Not Safe.



The first thing that comes to mind is this open letter to the woman in the Safeway parking lot... by Kristin Auger.  AND this most recent story of a 3 month old baby boy who died from falling. The heartbreaking story of thanking a woman who helped her, when her son fell in his carseat out of the grocery cart.  I can not imagine the pain or fear that a woman would experience in that instance, nor do I want to.  Thankfully, I never had to.  I NEVER took my daughter's car seat out of the car to carry her into a store, doctor's office or family gathering {or to be more specific, anywhere}.  I simply used my arms or moby wrap.

After searching the web for statistics of injuries occurring in car seats out side of the car, I found a few really important articles.

The first one was by By Katrina Woznicki and was reviewed by Louise Chang, MD.  The article explained that "...a total of 43,562 car seat-related injuries resulted in trips to the emergency room between 2003 and 2007.  Those were based on infants 1 year and younger. Shital N. Parikh, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, led a study analyzing data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Surveillance System database. The researchers found that based on a sample of nearly 1,900 infants: 85% of injuries were related to falls. Of these, 64.8% fell out of a car seat; 14.6% of injuries were caused by a car seat falling from an elevated surface; and 5.6% occurred from other types of falls. Head and neck injuries were the most common type of injury; 84.3% of infants suffered a head or neck injury, 62.4% of which occurred in infants younger than 4 months old. 54.4% of injuries occurred in baby boys. 8.4% of infants had to be admitted to the hospital for their injuries. Three deaths occurred. Researchers also reported that the most common surfaces from which infants fell out of car seats included shopping carts (8.1%), tabletops (6.3%), and counter tops (3.8%). The study is published in the July 5 2010 issue of Pediatrics..."

The most frustrating thing about the injuries in these studies is that they were ALL preventable.  Car seats are simply not designed for use outside of the car.  Some are designed to connect to strollers, but after reviewing such a stroller as a gift, I promptly returned it because the seat never felt as secure as my arms or wrap.

When attending our childbirth education classes before our daughter's birth we discussed with an C.M. {certified midwife} risks of car seats outside of the car.  She mentioned that there is an increased risk of SIDS when children are left to sleep in their car seat.  I confirmed this information in the an article; Infant Car Seats May Increase Risk of SIDS By Peggy Peck (Published: July 19, 2007) and Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.  "A review of 508 deaths of infants younger than one year found that 17 deaths occurred when infants were in "sitting devices" and 10 of those deaths were unexplained, according to Aurore Côté, M.D., of McGill University Health Center, and colleagues, in a study published online by Archives of Disease in Childhood."

We choose, before our daughter was born, to not use the car seat for anything other than a seat in the car to prevent injury during auto accidents.  It wasn't worth the risk, the tiniest of preventable deaths are still risks and it doesn't matter if it's one in a million if your child is the one.

Other obvious reasons are that car seats are heavier than the baby, it's the baby plus the car seat, more work for a new mom or dad hardly makes sense to me.  I think Lilah Zane says it best in her article "Car Seats Belong in Cars: The Unintended Health Consequences of Infant Travel Systems" on yahoo. "There are several compelling reasons to not use car seats as a baby carrier. The most basic one is that they are cumbersome and extremely heavy."  She also discusses the risks of "flat head syndrome"  which is interesting because people were always commenting on my daughters beautiful bald round head.  They'd joke about how their babies always had a flat bald spot on the back of their heads.  I always politely thanked them but wondered, why didn't they notice what was causing that bald spot?  

I know many parents might argue it to be more convenient to carry a baby inside or to the car in their seat or even when it's 100* here, no one wants to put their baby back into a 100*+ car seat.  For my daughter's safety we use a towel to cover her seat when going anywhere during the summer, my car is always hot but her seat is only warm to the touch. 

I know that hip development is also critical in early months of development, and I found this illustrated article by Jennifer Lance most informative with both car seat dos and don'ts and wraps too, this way you can make sure when you are using your car seat in the car, your child is safely secure without risk of abnormal bone development.  I actually met one foster mother who had a baby girl who spent the first six months of her life in a car seat and at eight months, when she was removed from her seat, she was physically unable to straighten her legs.  It was one of the saddest things I've ever seen.  I wonder what life long hip damage was the result of such neglect.  Other developmental risks can be caused by toxic chemicals in the plastics and fabrics of car seats.  While I accept them as a necessary evil for the overall safety of my child while in the car, I have no desire to extend her exposure to such chemicals.  "Last year MSN Health reported that many chemicals, including “lead, flame retardants, and toxic plastics,” are present in child restraint devices and can “interfere with their developing lungs, brains, and reproductive systems.” This overlooked car seat risk was exposed by a study carried out by the Ecology Center, a nonprofit consumer environmental organization. According to their study results, 60 percent of the child seats tested contained at least one of the unsafe chemicals tested for, with flame retardant chemicals being the most common. The study authors were careful to point out that this should not deter parents from using car seats. However, they did make several recommendations to reduce the risk of infant chemical absorption. These recommendations include the following safety measures: Don’t let infants nap in car seats and prolong chemical exposure; Vacuum vehicles frequently to remove dangerous chemical dust; and Keep car seats out of direct UV rays and heat, both of which help break down chemicals faster and allow them to enter the body." 

I think this is the most source driven post I've ever written.  I really think it's important to know what people are exposing their children to and how to keep them safe.  I highly recommend using car seats ONLY in the car in order to prevent injury during auto accidents.  The developmental benefits for my daughter included walking at 8 months {she was never restricted in movement} and healthy brain and hip development.  I know we're all trying to choose what's best for our children and I hope with the information shared here, more parents will stop choosing convenience over safety.  

-Jenn




**Please note this post is not intended to judge mom's who choose to use car seats as carrier devices, nor is it intended to scare them, or make them feel inferior.  It is to inform parents of their carrying choices when it comes to their children.  In my opinion there is no right or wrong to parenting, there is simply safe and less safe.  The choices each family makes for themselves and their children is up to them.**




     

Sources:
Katrina Woznicki: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20100706/many-car-seat-injuries-occur-outside-car
Peggy Peck http://www.medpagetoday.com/Pediatrics/GeneralPediatrics/6199
Lilah Zane http://voices.yahoo.com/car-seats-belong-cars-unintended-health-consequences-257262.html
Jennifer Lance http://ecochildsplay.com/2012/01/31/slings-car-seats-baby-wearing-and-the-risk-of-hip-dysplasia/
Toxic risks: http://www.newsomelaw.com/blog/2012/02/17/not-so-obvious-car-seat-dangers-put-children-risk
Pediatrics study: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2010/07/05/peds.2010-0333.full.pdf
other resources:
http://www.helium.com/items/1387764-car-seat-baby-development-safety-of-car-seat-danger-of-car-seat-newborn-journey-thick-coats
http://healthyliving.msn.com/pregnancy-parenting/kids-health/how-dangerous-is-your-childs-car-seat-1
10 common mistakes regarding car seats: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/car-seat-safety/MY00824


2 comments:

  1. I'll admit we used the car seat a lot to help my son get to sleep (we'd swing it and rock it) but then switched to a convertible seat because the combination of baby and seat was just too heavy. If we ever have another, I doubt we will go through the trouble (and expense!) of a newborn car seat again!

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