Rather than get alarmed about auto seat safety, Colvin said parents should take steps to protect their babies. As a way to prevent a little one from waking, some parents will take out the entire auto seat and let the baby continue snoozing in it once inside their home.
For a parent, it's not uncommon to find your baby fast asleep in their vehicle seat when you arrive home.
A new study published this month in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics has found that, in data looked at from 2004 to 2014, 62.9 percent of sleep-related deaths in infants occurred when children were in auto safety seats (CSSs).
"While auto seats are always the best place for babies when they are being transported in a vehicle, that doesn't mean they are the safest place when they're sleeping outside of the auto", said study author Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, an associate professor of pediatrics at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. But once babies are outside the vehicle, they should sleep in a crib or bassinet, he said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that when sleeping, babies should always be placed in a supine position on their back until they're at least one year old. AAP specifically "discourages routine sleeping in sitting devices".
The 348 identified deaths occurred in babies at an average age of two months. They could also reportedly be injured or killed with improper buckling of vehicle seat straps. More than a third (35%) involved a bouncer, swing or similar device, and 2% occurred in a stroller. More than half of these (52%) occurred inside the parent's home. According to the study, about 90 percent of the time an infant death occurred in a auto seat, the seat wasn't being used properly.
Dr Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University in New York City, reviewed the findings. More than 90 per cent of the time the vehicle seats were not being used as directed.
"Using CSSs for sleep in nontraveling contexts may pose a risk to the infant", the study warned.
Researchers looked at 11,779 sleep-related deaths of infants over a 10-year period.