Prominent pediatrician warns about pram dangers in summer heat
A Queensland pediatrician has warned about babies and toddlers who are at risk as prams are covered up to protect babies from the sun. The warning is a timely reminder to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services who use prams as part of their excursions from services, or for settling children whilst in services.
The Courier Mail reports Dr David Levitt, Queensland Children’s Hospital director of paediatric medicine, as saying that temperatures inside covered prams can be much higher than the outside air, placing children at risk of organ failure, long-term damage, or death.
“Having a baby in the sun in a pram which is covered leads to a rise in temperature around 15 degrees over the environmental temperature,” Dr Levitt is quoted as saying, warning that the combination of no airflow, clothing, and the poor capacity of young children to regulate temperature could lead to life threatening injury.
Dr Levitt’s comments echo perspectives from researchers around the world, who found that covering a pram, even using a breathable fabric such as muslin, could increase the pram temperature by up to 15 degrees.
Dr Levitt, speaking to the Courier Mail, advised that it was best to use a canopy to shade a baby, which would allow for airflow, and to stay in the shade.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion in babies and young children include flushed skin, increased heart rate, swearing, weakness, cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. Heat exhaustion can be followed closely by heat stroke, which indicates a rise in body temperature to the point where organs may be damaged, Dr Levitt said.
Advice about safe sleeping environments for babies can be found here.