According to researchers in New Zealand by leaving young infants sleeping unattended in car seats, even when they're brought indoors, can be a killer.
The researchers from the University of Auckland say such behaviour can have have life-threatening consequences, as in some situations the seats may encourage sleep apnea.
The team led by Dr. Alistair Jan Gunn, say that while the seats have been proven to be indispensable in protecting infants during motor vehicle accidents, when used in the recommended semi-reclined position, the seats may promote a decline in oxygen saturation in some situations.
Dr. Gunn and colleagues analyzed data from all infants who were referred to the Auckland Cot Monitoring Service for an apparently life-threatening event over a two year period between July 1999 and December 2000.
Of the 43 infants referred to the service during that time, 9 had been left sleeping while restrained in a car safety seat and in all but one case, the infant had been left in the car seat while indoors and had been in a more or less upright position.
The nine babies ranged in age from 3 days to 6 months and had an average birth weight of 6.9 pounds.
Only one was premature and the rest were full-term, with normal growth and weight.
Of the nine mothers 5 were smokers.
Apparently all of the babies had a bluish appearance while in the car seat and four of them were described as limp and less responsive.
Fortunately all were successfully resuscitated which usually involved picking the infant up and gently shaking or patting on the back.
The research is published in the British Medical Journal, December 9, 2006.