A mother, enlightened by a horrifying experience, wants to spread a warning to other parents. Her 3-week-old baby stopped breathing after a two-hour journey in a car seat.
Kirsti Clark, then 28, and her husband, Christopher Clark, then 29, realized something was wrong when they returned home from an afternoon shopping trip. Baby Harper’s lips turned blue, her jaw clenched shut, and white foam started frothing out of her nose and mouth.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) April 9, 2018
The couple raced their baby girl and 3-year-old daughter, Malena, straight to a hospital; Harper had suffered a seizure, and it was all down to her car seat.
Kirsti, from Falkirk in Scotland, regaled the terrifying events of April 4, 2018. “When we got home it was way past Malena’s bedtime,” the mom recalled, “so I brought Harper inside in her car seat. She stayed in there for 15 minutes,” Kirsti explained to the Daily Mail, “as we got Malena into bed.”
So worrying. Baby Harper was left foaming at the mouth 😥
Christopher bounced his baby daughter on his knee, but noticing she wasn’t comfortable, he moved her to her play mat. “I told him her lips looked blue,” Kirsti recalled, “and then he pointed out how red her cheeks were. Suddenly, this white foam started coming out her nose and mouth […] her jaw was clenched shut.”
Kirsti insisted it “wasn’t like a normal seizure. She was arching her back,” she said, “and throwing her head back.”
In near hysterics, the Clarks headed for the hospital. “I shouted, ‘Please, please help her,’” Kirsti said. “I think I scared the receptionist.”
Doctors successfully resuscitated the baby girl. “They let me have a cuddle before they started doing tests to find out what had caused it,” Kirsti remembered. “It was horrid; I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”
After their afternoon of retail therapy, the Clarks’ drive home had taken them approximately an hour and 45 minutes. Harper spent a further 15 minutes in her car seat while her parents put their 3-year-old to bed.
After tests, Harper was declared healthy. Her car seat was also deemed completely safe, so what had gone wrong?
— The Sun (@TheSun) April 3, 2019
A consultant informed the Clarks that timing was of the essence. As little as one hour in a car seat has the potential to cause oxygen deprivation in young babies, they said. When Harper was moved after her two-hour stint in the car seat, the sudden increase in oxygen sent her tiny body into shock, causing her to seizure.
“When the consultant told us it was the car seat, I couldn’t believe it,” a stunned Kristi told the Daily Mail. “I couldn’t understand why nobody had ever told us.”
Mum’s warning to other parents after her baby was almost suffocated by car seat https://t.co/vOWBQuPDvI
— Metro (@MetroUK) April 10, 2018
“The doctors did tell us in hospital that it is usually a concern with premature babies,” she continued, “but Harper is a big girl. That’s why we knew we had to share what happened to Harper, because parents need to know.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that while car seats are one of the most effective ways of protecting babies and young children from fatal injuries, the upright sitting posture required to make them effective can partially compress the chest and reduce the capacity of the airway.
“Safety devices,” they advise, “should be used only for protection during travel, and not as replacement for cribs.”
Francine Bates of The Lullaby Trust, a British charity that funds research into the causes of infant deaths, expounded: “Ideally a second adult should travel in the back of the car with the baby, and a mirror should be used so the driver can keep an eye on the baby at all times.”
If a baby slumps forward, Bates explained, parents should stop immediately and remove the baby from the car seat to prevent oxygen deprivation.
Since the incident, the Clarks use a clip-on monitor to keep an eye on Harper’s breathing in her car seat, as per the Mirror. “Watch your baby and know your baby,” Kirsti said, in an attempt to prevent other parents from experiencing the same horror that she endured.
“If something doesn’t seem quite right, take them straight to hospital.”