Every parent should be aware that their newborn child must be restrained in a rear-facing child restraint system (CRS), whether an infant-only seat or a convertible seat in the rear-facing position, when they come home from the hospital — and, of course, on every subsequent trip in a motor vehicle. What parents may not know, however, is how to approach child passenger safety if their child has a low birth weight and/or is born prematurely, which is typically defined at earlier than 37 weeks.
There are health risks specific to premature or low-birth weight (5.5 pounds or under) infants when placed in a traditional CRS, including an increased risk of oxygen desaturation, apnea and/or bradycardia. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has more information on these conditions here.
Therefore, safe transportation of preterm and low birth weight infants requires special considerations. Before leaving the hospital, the infant must pass the “car seat test,” where they are seated in a CRS provided by the parents for a specific length of time while his or her breathing, heart rate, and oxygen level are monitored. If deemed necessary, the medical team may recommend a car bed, which allows the infant to lie down while traveling and help to avoid the medical signs listed above. Babies in car beds need to be monitored by an adult other than the driver, and car trips should be limited until the child is medically approved to transition to a traditional rear-facing CRS….
Read the rest of this excellent and important article from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Injury Research and Prevention, here.