Researchers with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) studied 11,779 infant sleep-related deaths over a ten-year period and found that 3 per cent of babies died in sitting devices, most commonly car seats that were not being used at the time for travel.
The study abstract states the “objective was to describe factors associated with sleep-related infant deaths in sitting devices” and to do so, researchers analyzed infant death data from 2004-2014 from the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention.
The “main outcome was sleep location (sitting device versus not).”
Of all the infant deaths recorded in sitting devices during those ten years, almost 63 per cent were in car safety seats. More than 90 per cent of the time the car seats were not being used as directed.
The median age at death was two months old.
The AAP warns against using car seats or any other sitting device as an alternative to a crib, listing risks such as the infant falling, a fall from an elevated surface or the infant flipping onto a soft surface and suffocating. Not buckling your baby properly into the car seat can also result in injury and death.
The study detailed that the majority of deaths in sitting devices happened at home under the supervision of a parent, but that there were “higher odds of a sleep related death in a sitting device when there was a child care provider of babysitter is the primary supervisor.” The study determined that a combination of risk factors were present for all of the deaths recorded.
“The main take home message is not the combination of risk factors as much as it is using car seats as replacements for cribs or bassinets,” said study co-author Jeffrey D. Colvin to the AAP internal newsletter.
The AAP says that outside of transporting your child, car seats and other sitting devices are not to be used for sleeping – and to bring a portable crib or bassinette to use when you arrive at your destination.