Keeping infants safe during travel

car seatRecent reports indicate that some infants have lower blood oxygen levels when placed in car seats. Parents hearing this information might worry about the safety of car seats. However, all medical experts agree that car seats are essential for preventing death or injury to newborns and infants during motor vehicle travel. We strongly believe that the risk of injury from motor vehicle accidents outweighs the risk from brief episodes of lower blood oxygen levels.

The following are some steps parents can take to minimize their infant’s risks while using their car seats:

  1. Car seats should only be used to transport children, not as a replacement for a crib or bassinet.
  2. Remove the infant from the car seat if he/she becomes pale, blue or has trouble breathing and call for medical assistance.
  3. Stop intermittently during long trips to remove the infant from the car seat.
  4. Try to limit the time a newborn infant spends in the car seat to one hour.
  5. Have a second adult in the car observe the newborn infant during travel.

Michele DeGrazia, PhD, NNP-BC, is a neonatal nurse practitioner and nurse scientist. Lawrence Rhein, MD, is the director of the Center for Healthy Infant Lung Development.