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Car Seats Can Limit Kids' Oxygen Supplies
Date:8/24/2009

Experts say risk is small but warrants reminder about proper use,,

MONDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Kids should be put in car seats only when traveling, not while sleeping or "hanging out" at home, child health experts warn.

That's because sitting upright in a car seat -- the position that's recommended -- can compress the chest and lead to lower levels of oxygen, according to a new study published online Aug. 24 in Pediatrics.

"There are people who have no baby beds and have their kids sleep in the car seat all the time," noted one expert, Dr. Iley Browning, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "That's not a good choice. And dropping oxygen levels are going to get worse when children have colds so you're making your child worse by putting them in a car seat when they're sick. And I guarantee that parents do this more when their child is sick."

But experts agree that the new warning by no means dilutes the message that car seats are critical for protecting children from injury in a collision, just like seat belt restraints protect adults.

"Your child should be restrained properly even for the shortest ride," said Dr. Mike Gittelman, an associate professor of emergency medicine and co-director of the Comprehensive Children's Injury Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "You're 88 percent more likely to be saved in a motor vehicle collision if you're restrained. Car seats save lives."

In addition, Gittelman said, the changes in oxygen saturation detected in the study were "minimal."

Earlier studies on the subject focused primarily on more fragile, preterm infants, he said.

But the study's authors noted that airway obstruction in an infant, even if it's mild, has been linked with behavioral problems and lower IQ.

The researchers, from Slovenia and Boston, started looking at
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