Practitioners have a role in educating parents about infant car seat safety
The ICA Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics calls on all practitioners to educate parents on the importance of infant car seat safety because it can affect the life as well as the health of a child. Besides reminding parents that installation should be done according to manufacturer’s specifications and follow safety care guidelines (www.seatcheck.org) the Council stresses the importance of reminding parents that car restraint systems are designed for the safety of a child while riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle and not designed for long term use as a bed for sleeping infants.
According to Sharon Vallone, DC, DICCP, vice chair of the ICA Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics, keeping an infant in a car set can affect the child’s posture as well as cause respiratory problems. An infant is born with a primary curve or “C” shape from the base of the head to the top of the tail bone. This primary curve is maintained in an infant carrier, flexing the head on the chest and flexing the legs to the abdomen at the hips. The more upright the carrier is positioned, the more exaggerated the posture. Maintaining this position for any length of time without being able to extend or elongate the body may result in subluxation and neuromusculoskeletal compromise of the delicate respiratory and/or digestive systems by reducing air flow as the head is flexed on the chest, or encouraging gas build up inducing rigidity and reflux as the knees are flexed to the abdomen and the abdominal contents compressed into the diaphragm.
Sometimes parents will allow a sleeping child to remain in the car seat because they do not want to disturb them, or because the child has problems with reflux when lying supine. “But it is important,” said Dr. Vallone “to reposition the child out of the car seat for healthy development of their spine and motor function as well as their safety.”