Parents are being warned not to leave young babies in car seats for more than 30 minutes, following the tragic death of a 10-week-old tot from Wigan who was left strapped in overnight.
A report released this week by the Wigan Safeguarding Children Board revealed the horrific details of Child M’s death which occurred after she was left in car seat in a hotel room along with her twin and another youngster while their parents went drinking.
The investigation into her avoidable death found that the “high risk” infant, who had been born at just 28 weeks gestation, was left from 7pm until 10am the following day being removed only once for feeding during that time.
Following this, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is urging parents never to leave their children unattended in car seats and never to use the devices as a crib.
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager for the organisation, said that research shows almost all car seat deaths occur when the car seat is being used outside the vehicle.
He said: “RoSPA advice is that travel be minimised in the first few months of a baby’s life, keeping journeys to a period of one hour or shorter.
“If the journey is longer than this, it is important to make regular stops.
“Avoid keeping a young baby in a baby seat for longer than 30 minutes.
“Put the baby seat in the rear of the car, but never leave the child unattended in the seat.”
Research undertaken by the group has revealed that babies under four weeks of age could suffer breathing difficulties if left in a car seat for longer than just 30 minutes.
Mr Lloyd cited two integral pieces of research into the equipment.
A 2009 Slovenian study concluded that rearward facing car seats and lie-flat seats remain very important transport devices for new-born infants and older children, but due to respiratory limitations, these devices should be restricted to protection from injury and death in road accidents and should never serve as a replacement for a crib.#
Another research study reviewed and analysed deaths of children aged two years and younger that occurred in sitting and carrying devices (car seats, strollers, bouncers, swings and slings) that were reported to the US Product Safety Commission between April 2004 and December 2008.
There were 31 reported deaths in child car seats, and the mean age of the child at the time of death was 9.7 months.
More than half of car seat deaths (52 per cent) were associated with strangulation from the straps and 48 per cent were attributed to positional asphyxia.
Ten of these cases (where information was available) reported improper use of the restraint/straps. Almost all 89 per cent of all deaths occurred when the child car seat was being used outside of the vehicle.