TODAY ran a difficult but important segment recently, sharing the heartbreaking story of Lisa Smith’s 17-month-old daughter. Little Mia fell asleep in her carseat after an outing with her caregiver and failed to wake up from her nap after being transferred in the carseat from the car to the house.
The cause of death was what’s known as positional asphyxia. According to Dr. Natalie Azar, an NBC News medical contributor, it occurs “when the baby’s sleeping position prevents him or her from breathing adequately…When a carseat is in the car, it’s reclined at 45 degrees. This allows the baby’s head and neck to rest backwards so that it’s not slumped forward and blocking the airway.” According to a study that looked at the hazards of children two-years old and younger in “sitting and carrying devices,” 48% of carseat deaths from 2004 to 2008 were attributed to positional asphyxia.
As a new parent, this story took my breath away. I’d never heard of positional asphyxia and I didn’t know how important it was to transfer Jack from his carseat to a bed when we get home. It appears we’re extremely fortunate because on several occasions, after a road trip or even just a quick trip to the store and back, I’ve brought the carseat into the house and left him in his seat to continue napping.
“Most new parents will hear that they should never wake a sleeping baby, but in the situation of your baby falling asleep in the carseat, in the car, transferring them to a safer place, such as a firm mattress or crib is really the recommended thing to do,” Azar said. Now I know this and will never forget it. Please share the story with any new parents so they know, too.
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