A mother who lost her baby while she slept in a car seat outside of the vehicle, a common occurrence, is now trying to create awareness about the dangers of doing so. Smith lost her baby girl three years ago. She still vividly remembers that fateful day on June 10, 2015, when she received a call at work about her daughter Mia who was just 17-months old at the time.
She was in the care of a daycare provider’s home and was asleep in a car seat on the floor of the room. She never woke up from her sleep that day. Smith told Today, “This was our beautiful little girl. Perfectly healthy. But when they came in and told us that she didn’t have any more brain activity, all I did was I turn to the doctor and said, ‘I know.'” Medical investigation revealed that she had passed away from positional asphyxia wherein the baby’s airway was cut off, and she died from it.
Positional asphyxia happens when a person “can’t get enough air to breathe due to the positioning of his/her body. This happens most often in infants, when an infant dies and is found in a position where his/her mouth and nose is blocked, or where his/her chest may be unable to fully expand,” Dr. Natalie Azar, a medical contributor for NBC News said, “Positional asphyxia is when the baby’s sleeping position prevents him or her from breathing adequately. When a car seat 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 published in The Journal of Pediatrics, at least 48 percent of the car seat deaths between 2004 to 2008 were from positional asphyxia. This study looked at the hazards of children two years old and younger in “sitting and carrying devices.” The study stated, “Sitting and carrying devices, which include car seats, bouncers (reclined infant seats that allow the occupant who cannot yet sit up unassisted to bounce), swings, strollers, and slings, are purchased by most parents for the primary purpose of transporting infants or confining them. However, many parents find that this may be a convenient and presumably safe place for the infant to be, whether awake or asleep.”
“There is potential for injury when sitting devices are not used for their intended purpose or as originally designed. Closed head injuries, skull fractures, broken bones, and suffocation have been reported in various sitting and carrying devices,” the study stated further. “Most new parents will hear that they should never wake a sleeping baby, but in the situation of your baby falling asleep in the car seat, 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.