Parents have been warned by the researchers at the Bristol University against allowing their babies to sleep longer periods in the car during travel or otherwise.
In a study, they revealed that if babies are forced to spend a longer time, the difficulties will start with breathing risks, which then lead to other fatal consequences.
At the same time, the researchers made it clear that the clinical significance of the findings is yet to be ascertained.
Using a vehicle simulator set in a laboratory they examined the ill effects of a newborn baby that was made to sleep in a car seat at a 40⁰ angle while traveling. Overall, the study tested 40 infants of different ages.
"If you can avoid a journey, it's probably better to do so, restricted to no more than half an hour or so. But try to avoid unnecessary car journeys with young babies," said Peter Fleming, a Pediatrician at the Bristol University.
At the laboratory, the researchers played out the effects of a baby sleeping in a car seat while the car was running at a speed of 30 mph.
In a specific case, it showed that the oxygen level in the blood of babies aged less than two months old dropped "significantly" while the heart beat increased.
One key result was that when babies sat at the prescribed angle for 30 minutes or more in a static or mobile position, their heart beat and breathing rate went up and blood oxygen levels dipped as compared to sleeping flat in a cot.
Significance of Study
Reflecting on the significance of the study, Fleming pointed out the deaths of infants during long car journeys.
The study assumes significance as a unique and pioneering effort as there had been few studies that attempted problems of infants in car seats.
It said risk about babies' breathing stems from their inability to keep their heads from flopping forward as the neck muscles are not yet strong. This worsens breathing and fatal results could follow.
Secure Child Seat Compulsory
In the light of their findings, the authors urged taking babies for travel in a properly secured child seat during car journeys, which is a legal requirement in many countries.
Fleming added that reports have been coming out over the deaths of infants in car seats during journeys as well as on occasions when parents try to use car seats instead of a pushchair to sleep the infant.
The Bristol researchers also wanted an adult to sit next to the baby to ensure the comfortable breathing of the infant while traveling.
The car seat makers should also educate parents about the potential dangers of long car journeys with young babies, the study urged.
Photo: Jim Champion | Flickr