A MUM has warned her baby “could have died” after a two-hour journey in a car seat left her deprived of oxygen.
Three-week-old Harper Clark was left foaming at the mouth, and stopped breathing, during the journey home to Falkirk on April 4 last year – which was longer than usual because of rush hour traffic.
Kirsti Clark, 29, and her husband Christopher, 30, who are also parents to Malena, four, had been out shopping for the day with their daughters.
The two-hour journey didn’t worry the parents until they got home and lay Harper on her play mat.
Her lips soon turned blue, her jaw clenched shut – and white foam started frothing out of her nose and mouth.
The couple grabbed their girls and rushed to hospital – but the five minute journey felt like a lifetime for journalist Kirsti, who was convinced she was going to lose her baby.
Doctors were able to resuscitate Harper, who had suffered a seizure, and warned the parents that anything longer than an hour in a car seat can caused babies’ oxygen levels to plummet.
Now the couple, who had no idea spending time in a safe car seat could have such dire consequences, are determined to raise awareness.
Kirsti said: “When we got home it was way past Malena’s bedtime so brought Harper in in her car seat and she stayed in there for 15 minutes as we got Malena into bed.
“My husband got Harper out and put her on his knee but she looked like she couldn’t get comfy so he laid her down on her mat and she was kicking about.
“I told him her lips looked blue and then he pointed out how red her cheeks were. He picked her up and I could tell straight away from his face that something was wrong.
“When she’s feeding sometimes she holds her breath and the health visitor told us to blow in her face so we tried that but it didn’t help then suddenly this white foam started coming out her nose and mouth.
“It was so scary. My husband was holding her and patting her back and I was trying to get her mouth open to make sure she didn’t swallow her tongue but her jaw was clenched shut.
“It wasn’t like a normal seizure, she was arching her back and throwing her head back.
“We both knew we needed to get her straight to hospital so we got Malena into the car and raced straight there.
“The car journey was horrendous. I was trying to make sure she was breathing but I was shaking so much I couldn’t tell.
“My husband kept asking if she was breathing and I just had to say ‘I don’t know’.
“She kept closing her eyes and I was trying to keep her awake but then they would glaze over. My wee girl was so panicked as well.
“The whole way there all I could think was ‘we are going to lose her’. I can’t even talk about it without getting upset.
“When we got to the hospital I ran in with her in my arms. I was hysterical and crying, I shouted ‘please, please help her’. I think I scared the receptionist.
“The doctors came and took her into resus and a nurse led me through. By the time I got in there they had thankfully managed to get her breathing again. It was such a relief.
“Then the tears really started so they let me have a cuddle before they started doing tests to find out what had caused it.
“Seeing her like that was the worst feeling. It was horrid. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.
“It has left me so paranoid. She is absolutely fine but I had to go out and buy a clip on monitor which monitors her breathing just to give me some peace of mind.”
The family had gone out for an afternoon of shopping at 2.45pm, and drove 45 minutes to their local shopping centre – where Harper spent nearly three hours in her pram.
They then drove for 10 minutes to another shop, to look at bunk beds, where Harper was taken out of her seat and had a feed.
At around half 6, the family headed home – spending an hour and 45 minutes in the car, with Harper spending another 15 minutes in her car seat while Melena was put to bed.
Spending two hours in her car seat caused such severe oxygen deprivation that when Harper was taken out of her car seat, the sudden increase sent her body into shock – causing the baby to fit.
After being rushed to A&E and resuscitated, the baby girl spent the night in hospital where doctors carried out blood tests, an ECG and a car seat test.
While Harper was found to be in great health and her car seat completely safe, doctors told Kirsti and Christopher any tot who spends more than one hour in a car seat can suffer oxygen deprivation.
The stunned mum admitted she was initially in denial as she couldn’t believe she had never heard of the risks before – but then felt angry and guilty.
Since speaking to other parents, she’s realised lots of parents don’t know about the risks.
Kirsti said: “When the consultant told us it was the car seat I couldn’t believe it. I thought ‘there’s no way’. I couldn’t understand why nobody had ever told us.
“We had obviously heard about not keeping babies in car seats overnight because it causes curvature of the spine but not about anything like this.
“When my wee girl was a baby we did four-hour drives down to visit family in Cornwall and we had never had any problems at all.
“The doctors did tell us in hospital that it is usually a concern with premature babies but Harper is a big girl. She was 8lb 5oz when she was born and she’s 8lb 9oz now.
“We knew we had to share what happened to Harper because parents need to know. Just two hours in a car seat and we could have lost her, it’s terrifying.
“I would tell every parent to just really carefully watch their babies and if they don’t absolutely need to be in the car seat take them out because it is not worth what we had to go through.
“Watch your baby and know your baby. If something doesn’t seem quite right take them straight to hospital.”
The Lullaby Trust, a charity which funds research on infant deaths, carried out a study using a motion simulator to explore the effects on babies spending prolonged periods of time in car seats in 2016.
The study concluded: “Simulating motion reveals a striking increase in potentially clinically significant oxygen desaturations.”
Speaking at the time, The Lullaby Trust’s chief executive Francine Bates said: “We believe that parents should be given informed and evidence based advice when they purchase car seats.
“There is a tendency to focus on how best to fit a car seat and strap a baby in but information on the potential health risks associated with driving long distances is not usually offered.
“We advise parents that they should avoid travelling in cars with pre-term and very young babies for long periods of time.”
Yesterday, we reported on a mum-of-three who almost bled to death and can no longer have kids after having the contraceptive coil implanted.
While this boy suffered agonising burns after a cup of tea spilled over, scalding him.