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Baby Medical Q&A, Issue #075 -Child Safety
January 01, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Baby Medical Q&A News.

Happy New Year. I feel 2013 is going to be a really productive year and I'm looking forward to making it count!

This new year issue has some reminders about child safety. Childhood injury is one of the leading causes of death in all age groups and is preventable. So be vigilant and make safe choices for your children.

Infant Sleep Positioners are Dangerous

Recently a mother told me that she was using an infant sleep positioner to maintain her baby on her side while sleeping. The mother believed that the infant sleep positioner was a protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as it kept her baby on her side. She felt uncomfortable with her baby sleeping on her back but was unable to specify why this was. I was dismayed that she was using a product that has been directly linked to deaths due to unintentional suffocation in babies and that she was putting her baby in an unsafe sleeping position.

The November 2012 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the CDC reported on 13 deaths related to infant sleep positioners used for babies. The babies were all 4 months of age or less and were mostly put to sleep on their side. Clearly the infant sleep positioners did not do what the parents expected but even worse, they directly contributed to the baby's death.

The medical evidence is clear. The safest position for a baby to sleep is on her back. There should be no loose blankets or any other object that could cause suffocation. There are only a handful of cases where there is a medical reason not to sleep on the back and these are the only cases where additional positioners might be used.

You can read more about safe sleeping for infants in my book, Essential Baby Sleep.

Beware Magnet Toys / Jewellery

Have you seen those office magnet "toys" that are look great on your desk. Or have you seen magnetic jewellery?

These are sold to adults but can be fascinating to young children and toddlers. And like so many things they are fascinated by, the magnets end up in the mouth!!
I am reminded of the danger of these because my niece recently swallowed a quarter - she is 7 and had thrown the coin up in the air to catch it in her mouth. In that case, once we knew it was not causing airway problems, we just had to wait until it passed out.

You may think the same would be true of magnets but they are much more dangerous. These magnets are small yet incredible strong. If swallowed they can cause bowel perforation (as the magnets attract through the bowel wall). If you have these, keep them out of reach of your young ones.
If you think your child has swallowed one or more of these magnets get urgent medical attention. It's not a case of waiting for them to pass through the system.

Booster Seats Until Children are 4 ft 9 inches

Child car restraint laws are changing. It has been shown that booster seats prevent death and serious injury yet they are not universally used.

Up until the car seat belt fits appropriately and safely on a child, which is when they are about 4 ft 9 inches (or about 145 cm) they should use a booster seat with the seat belt of the car. This is usually around the age of 8 years.

So if your child is between 4 and 8 years, remember that the safest way to travel in a car using a booster seat and the car's seat belt. The seat belt alone may cause more injury or even death - the design is for an adult size not a child. Be safe, use a booster.

So as a reminder of safe car restraint:
  • infants should use a rear-facing car restraint until they are too tall for it - so shoulders above the maximum shoulder height (do not use in the front seat if there are passenger air bags)
  • Once the rear-facing restraint has been outgrown, the infant and toddler should be in a forward facing child restraint with a built-in harness (do not use in the front seat if there are passenger air bags) Once their shoulders are above the maximum shoulder height or are 2.5 cm above the top harness slot, it is time to move to a booster
  • Young children should sit in a booster seat with a lap-sash belt until they can obtain good seat belt fit with the lap belt across the top of the thighs and the the sash belt across the center of the shoulder which is usually once they are 145-150 cm or 4 ft 9 in tall (do not use in the front seat if there are passenger air bags)
  • Older children should sit in the back seat with a lap-sash seat belt until they are at least 13 years of age

Stay Safe Everyone Please feel free to share this ezine with family and friends.

Till next time,

Dr Maud

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