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Car seats lower oxygen levels in newborns

August 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
When an infant is under 4 months old, they can hardly hold up their own heads. And when they're in an infant car seat, a new report reveals that lack of neck control can lead to potential breathing problems. Now, a new study brings attention to what can happen if the baby isn't sitting in the seat correctly. Like all new parents, Pat and Veronica Rowan have a lot of concerns when it comes to their 1-month-old daughter, Tesla.

"She's so delicate and new. I just want to make sure she's safe, that's my number one priority," said Pat Rowan. "I definitely had a concern about how she'd sit in the car seat and would be positioned in any other seating arrangement with her neck being bent forward."

The study, published in the Journal Pediatrics, found at a certain angle, car seats could cause compression in the chest, and result in lower oxygen intake.

"If you have a 5-day-old infant and their head is kinked like a soda straw their oxygen intake may decrease," said pediatrician Dr. John Mangoni.

Dr. Mangoni tells first time parents how to make sure their baby is properly positioned.

"So you want the car seat to be somewhere at a 45 degree angle. If it is upright at 90 degrees the head is going to come down," said Dr. Mangoni. "You can tell just by looking at the baby to see if their chin is touching their chest."

Many car seats have a way of adjusting the angle of the seated position. But if they don't Dr. Mangoni says you can improvise.

"If the car seat doesn't have an adjustment, you can take a tight blanket roll, put it where the back and the bottom meet and you can push the bottom forward," said Dr. Mangoni. "The car seat will lean backward and the baby's neck won't be so kinked."

The study may make some parents nervous, but Dr. Mangoni offers a little perspective.

"In the 30 years I have been a pediatrician I have not had one single person have a problem with their child in an infant seat," said Dr. Mangoni. "So that tells you something after seeing tens of thousands of kids."

Dr. Mangoni tells parents that infants shouldn't spend any more time than necessary in the car seat, so he recommends not using the car seat out of the car.

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