The Breath Right System: Time to save Infants

Essay (author: Bennett Heyn)

Baby sleep in car

Every day, infants are dying from suffocation due to car seat safety. According to Express News, “Parents were warned not to leave babies strapped in their car seats for long periods after it was revealed that 31 have died.” When improperly supervised, children die from suffocation in car seats. This issue is labeled as positional asphyxia and happens when a person cannot get enough air to breathe because of the way they are sitting. Infants and children under 2 years old are at risk for death when they sleep in the car. The babies are not safe because they are either not fully buckled or their head leans forward too much which blocks the breathing pathway.

As a child grows, the car seat they should use changes. My focus is on the infant car seat for kids ages 0-3. Car seats are very important for infants to use because according to the CDC’s data, “Use of infant seats decreases the rate of fatal injuries by 71%.” Parents need to find the safest car seats to use so that they can prevent injuries. Usually, infants should be rear facing but the only problem is that it is harder for the parents to monitor the infant. Infants need to be supervised and should not be left to take a nap in their car seat. Unfortunately, not all parents know the danger of leaving babies in car seats for extended periods of time.

What parent need to know about letting infant sleep in a car seat

long travel with baby

My concern deals with how many infants are dying because of unsafe car seats which allow for positional asphyxia. Justin Daniels, a consultant pediatrician at North Middlesex University Hospital, said: “Car seats are desperately important to save lives from car accidents. However, families should not leave babies in car seats for long periods or once they are removed from the car“.

The problem is continuing to grow and car seat research has not made a new model which can prevent infant suffocation. Similar to Justin Daniels, Dr. Erich Batra, a child specialist, stated, “Infants and young children should not be left unsupervised when using a sitting or carrying device due to the risk of suffocation and death.” Elsevier is credible because it is, “a global information analytics business that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity.”

In a study that was done by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, they analyzed 47 infant deaths and found that all but one were attributed to positional asphyxia. It’s surprising that there is a plethora of research out on how to prevent suffocation but the problem has not gone away. The reason that infants fall asleep then suffocate is that according to Dr. Ben Hoffman, “a baby’s head could flop forward and he doesn’t yet have the neck control or strength to bring his head back up, which blocks the airway.” On the large scale, this dangerous problem affects the community greatly because the infant’s death is not acceptable and something has to be done about it.

Breath Safe System

New technology for baby

My creative and innovative idea that I will put forth into action is to create the Breath Safe System which car seat companies can modify and add to infant car seats.

  • This system would be unique and modern because it can help solve the problem of infants leaning forward when they fall asleep. There are many ways that infants way suffocate but a very common way is from the falling asleep and leaning forward.
  • This system will be modern and similar to that of safety systems that are in cars. For example, the system will make a ding noise to alert the parents to buckle in the child.
  • Once the child sits in the car seat, the Breath Safe System will recognize there is an infant because of the butt sensor (similar to an airbag sensor). The sensor will recognize any weight over 10 pounds.
  • The seat will also be equipped with a head pressure sensor which can sense if an infant is safely leaning their head back against the seat headrest. Since the seats are slightly angled backward, the infant will normally be leaning his head back. After the child is buckled into the car seat for 20 seconds, the head rest pressure sensor will engage. The pressure sensor will be a safety measure to prevent children from falling asleep and suffocating. When the baby falls asleep and leans forward, the pressure sensor will feel an absence of weight and correspondingly play a soft tone to alert the parent to check on the baby.
  • Also, the pressure sensor will notice an absence of weight and after 15 seconds of the soft tone, two soft bars will emerge from the front of the baby seat. They will slowly expand out from the walls of the car seat until they are directly in front of the baby, and then guide the baby’s forehead back to the headrest. This electronic contraption will prevent suffocation, alert the parents of the baby falling asleep, and safely put the baby heads back to a safe position.
  • Once the baby’s head is set back to a safe position, the soft bars will retract back into the car seat. There will be a manual override to this contraption but it could act as a safety feature similar to an adult wearing a seatbelt. The Breath Safe System could become a staple in the safety of modern car seats.

Across the world, we are faced with a universal problem, the suffocation of infants due to falling asleep in car seats. The current car seat has no safety standard to prevent this problem from continuing. My project aims to fix this problem one car seat at a time. I am creating a reliable contraption for car seats called the Breath Safe System which prevents infant suffocation in car seats. My goal for this project, Best Car Seat Hub Scholarship, is to fix and improve the safety of our modern day infant car seats. Through creativity and innovation, I strive to help my local community and nation by preventing the number of infant deaths per year.

Along the way, I will help many infants between the ages of 0-3 and inform parents and adults about the dangers of positional asphyxia. I want to help spread the word because many parents need to hear about the problem of letting infants sleep in the car and the danger of leaving infants in car seats for long periods of time. Developing a new way to prevent infant suffocation is very important because it is a widespread problem.

System can guarantee child safety

With this new technology, I am trying to create a solution to the problem of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It is sad because “thousands of infants die every year in the United States, and the causes of their deaths are in fact accidental, but many are explained by strangulation, suffocation, and entrapment.” Many of these sleep-related deaths are due to improper use of the car seat because of common mistakes such as not buckling up the child, not tethering the car seat or facing it the wrong way. Many websites list common rules to follow so ones infant does not suffocate. Similarly, using the Breath Safe System will be another way to guarantee child safety.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

I can only ensure that the system can guarantee child safety if it is tested and regulated. My solution needs to be tested properly and meet regulatory standards such as, “FMVSS 213 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for Child Restraint Systems), FMVSS 302 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for Flammability of Interior Materials), and ASTM F 833 (Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Carriages and Strollers)” Safety is a big concern and so to ensure the safety of infants from suffocation, I want to ensure the Breath Safe System is safe and regulated.

To turn this vision into a reality, I would like to work with professionals in the automotive infant safety field to make the design safe, effective, and reliable. The Breath Safe System will take funding and resources to come to life. The engineering behind the butt sensors would be similar to that of airbags, so the car seat can sense if an infant is sitting and properly secured. Secondly, I would like to use the same technology cars use to alert the driver to wear his seatbelt. The car seat will require infants to be properly secured and will make an aversive noise if the child is not buckled properly. The system would also require a pressure sensor by the headrest. This pressure sensor would be engineered to alert the parents if the infant’s head leans forward. Lastly, the system would require safety bars to return the infant’s head back to a safe position and open the breathing airway. This would require a soft durable material and would need to be programmed to know where to guide the baby’s forehead. The car seat would require the use of an electronic system such as battery controlled or usb so that it can function properly. The system should not be too expensive because it is a safety feature that all infant seats can be compatible with.

infant car seats
  • I want to market the Breath Safe System and sell it to Car Seat companies that could be compatible with popular infant seats such as the Evenflo Embrace LX, Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35, and Chicco Keyfit 30 Magic.
  • Our channel management strategy would be selling from the Manufacturer to retailer to consumer. When selling this product, it is important to focus on the 4 p’s of Marketing. The product, price, place, and promotion. With our product, we have a unique selling proposition which is we have the only product on the market designed to keep baby’s safe from suffocation in car seats.
  • Our price is also important because we need to keep the cost low so those who need the product can purchase it. Yet, it is important to keep the price at a point where the company can make solid margins and have a strong demand for the product. Third, placement is critical to selling the Breath Safe System and so I think that it should be sold where consumers can conveniently get to it. For example, it can be sold online with car seats and at stores such as Walmart and Target.
  • Lastly, the system needs promotion in order to become successful. It is very popular to use online advertising and also word of mouth so people know about it. The company would also develop a strong web presence by developing a website and social media account for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Overall, the product needs to be marketed well in order to be effective as a product that can help save lives.

In conclusion, my plan is to develop the Breath Right System which is a safe, effective, and reliable car seat system which helps prevent infant suffocation and SIDS. The system would be an innovative creative way to make car seats safer. It would have a but sensor and head pressure sensor. It would alert the parents to buckle up the child and notify the parents if the child leans forward and falls asleep and help guide the head backward and open the breathing airway. This solution may only help save a hundred lives per year but in order to make the world safer for infants, I need to do anything and everything to help.