Infant car seats are now mandated in all states (find the Illinois requirements here). They keep children safer in motor vehicle accidents (which is still unfortunately the leading cause of accidental deaths in children under the age of 14). They are also seen as a handy alternative to baby slings or other carriers. After all, if your infant falls asleep in the car, it's much more practical to carry the whole car seat into the house and allow the child to continue sleeping, as opposed to unbuckling her in the car, waking her up, and then carrying her into the house crying and rubbing her eyes.
Unfortunately, using the car seat as a carrier comes with its own set of problems. The International Chiropractic Association's Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics recently published an article which included this jarring fact:
There are far more injuries outside the motor vehicle because of the misuse of infant car seats than parents realize. Family practitioners should caution adults if they see them carrying infants in car seats. According to a study conducted at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital, 43% of infants presenting to the emergency departments of hospitals were the result of falls while being in a car seat outside the motor vehicle — overturning of the car seat on soft surfaces, or falls from the car seat when carried or placed on an elevated surface such as a table, chair, counter and even a washing machine. Misuse of car seats can cause serious head injuries and also suffocation from the restraint strap.
It's possible that Peoria parents are more sensible than Canadian parents, but accidents can and do happen. At the very least: ensure that your infant remains strapped in their seat when you are carrying the car seat, and always place the car seat on the floor instead of an elevated surface. If you are unable to do so, it's wise to listen to the statistics of the British Columbia hospital, and avoid leaving your child in the car seat.
Additionally, the car seat should not be viewed as a substitute for a flat sleeping surface. Infants who tend to sleep in car seats have more difficulty outgrowing the single-curved infant spine (the so-called "C" curve) because they don't have to work their neck and back muscles like infants who sleep in cribs. For proper spine health and growth, infants should be encouraged to lift their heads and push their bodies up with their arms. Unfortunately, their heads are already pushed forward in car seats, and there is no natural requirement for them to emphasize the use of their own muscles. Such flexion of the head can also exacerbate other health conditions in which it is actually unsafe to allow your child to sleep in a car seat.
Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
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Although every effort has been made to provide an accurate description of our chiropractic care and its benefits, the information given on this website and blog is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, medical advice for any condition.
If you have any questions regarding your condition, you should seek the help of Dr. Johnson in person, so that he may properly assess your condition.
This blog is provided by Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria, S.C., proudly located in Peoria, IL.