Very young babies are vulnerable to sudden death (including SIDS), when seated, warns a study published ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, London, England.
Babies less than a month old were most at risk.
The researchers from the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre base their findings on an analysis of all sudden unexpected deaths occurring among babies up to 12 months of age in Quebec, Canada, between 1991 and 2000.
In all, 534 babies died during this period, but the cause of death was fully investigated in only 508.
In 99 cases, the cause of death came to light after further investigation, but in 409 cause of death remained unexplained.
Seventeen (3.3%) of the 508 deaths had occurred in babies who were seated, predominantly, but not exclusively, in car seats. Ten of these were unexplained.
Premature babies were not at greater risk. But those aged under a month were almost four times as likely to die suddenly while seated compared to the older babies.
And babies under one month old in the group of unexplained deaths were more than seven times as likely to die while seated.
The authors point out that their research indicates that the rate of deaths among seated babies is relatively small at just over 3%, and that there are no questions about the necessity or safety of car seats.
Instead, extra care should be taken for very young babies in any type of infant seat.
[Sudden infant deaths in sitting devices Online First Arch Dis Child 2007; doi: 10.1136/adc.2007.119180]