SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The way a nine-month-old baby died in an in-home day care on Nov. 4 in Sioux Falls has a striking resemblance to a case study from research published in 2015.
The research study called “Hazards Associated with Sitting and Carrying Devices for Children Two Years and Younger” was published in the Journal of Pediatrics in July of 2015. The details of one case study resemble a current case in Sioux Falls.
The case study is: “An 11-month-old boy was placed with a bottle in a car seat for a nap at a home day care center. He was covered with a fleece blanket. The chest buckles were secured, but the lower buckles were unsecured. One hour and 20 minutes later, the child care provider went into the room to check on the child. She saw that he had slipped down in his car seat, such that at least one strap was up against his neck, his color was pale, and he was gasping for breath. EMS was called and the victim was transported to a hospital, where he was declared dead.”
On Tuesday, Kayla Styles, 30, of Sioux Falls, was arrested for manslaughter in the second degree and abuse or cruelty to minor in the death of a 9-month old baby in her day care. Court papers said Styles had placed the baby upright in a car seat to nap but connected only the top clasp and not the bottom clasp. The baby became tangled in the top car seat strap and suffocated, court papers said. Styles told police she did not check on the baby for about two hours, court papers said.
The car seat can be a deadly place for babies when used outside of the intended purpose for transport in vehicles, research shows.
A 10-year review of sleep-related infant deaths showed that 3% of deaths happened in a sitting device, most often in a car seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in May of 2019.
The study reviewed 11,779 infant sleep-related deaths from 2004 to 2014. Of the 11,779 sleep-related deaths, 348 (3%) occurred in sitting devices. The majority of those deaths, 219 (62.9%), occurred in car seats.
The 2015 in the Journal of Pediatrics analyzed 47 deaths and 31 of those happened in car seats. The study analyzed data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2004 and 2008.
The AAP noted in 2011 that while cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome had been decreasing “other causes of sudden unexpected infant death that occur during sleep (sleep-related deaths), including suffocation, asphyxia, and entrapment, and ill-defined or unspecified causes of death have increased in incidence, particularly since the AAP published its last statement on SIDS in 2005.”
The AAP said in 2011, “Sitting devices, such as car safety seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers, and infant slings, are not recommended for routine sleep in the hospital or at home.”
Eight years later, the recommendation was shared again by Consumer Reports on its website. “Babies can stay in their infant seat for short durations, but it shouldn’t be their primary place to sleep,” Consumer Reports said on its website on April 22.
Research shows that when caregivers place infants in a car seat to sleep, it’s not for a short nap. The 2015 study said an average time 140 minutes, or more than two hours, passed from when the caregiver last saw the infant until the infant was found dead in the car seat.
A total of 16 sleeping infants also died in slings, strollers, bouncers and swings, according to the study.
Infants who sleep in car seats outside of a vehicle are at risk of strangulation from the straps and positional asphyxia. It’s even riskier when all the straps are not properly fastened such as fastening only the top strap but not the bottom straps.
West Bend, an insurance company, published on its website called Culture of Safety a report that said when a car seat is properly installed in a vehicle and the infant is properly in place the infant’s airway is open. But the angle changes when the car seat is removed from the vehicle and the infant’s airway can be restricted, according to the website.
“Babies can squirm, and a partly or loosely-buckled harness could pose a strangulation risk,” Consumer Reports said on April 22.
According to the 2015 study, 52% percent of 31 deaths in car seats were attributed to strangulation from straps and the others were attributed to positional asphyxia.
While car seat sleeping deaths happen in homes, the 2019 study said the greater risk for an infant is when a child care provider or baby-sitter is the primary supervisor.
A baby may fall asleep in the car seat in a vehicle on the way to a child care provider or day care or on the way home. But the AAP says don’t leave the baby in the car seat to sleep once people reach their destination.
“Upon reaching a destination, children who are still sleeping should be placed in a crib or bassinet,” the AAP said in May.