Interview: Car seat safety, some may contain harmful chemicals

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It is supposed to be a place where you put your kids to make sure they stay safe. But is your child car seat, actually filled with materials that could be hazardous to their health? A new study claims it just might be.

Doctor Kimberly Caldwell is a pediatrician with CJW pediatric specialists and is one of our Neighborhood Health Watch physicians.

RYAN: Dr. Caldwell, thank you so much for being here.

DR. CALDWELL: Thank you for inviting me.

RYAN: Now, this report was issued by an environmentalist activist group called Ecology Today, and they claim that  60% of car seats contain things like chlorine and lead, other heavy metals and serious allergens.  Is this something we didn't know before?  Is this new information?

DR. CALDWELL: Actually no, Ryan. They have been doing these studies for the last three years, but I think the most significant study is the one they have done recently. At this particular study in 2011, it covered 150 car seats.

RYAN:  It claims the presence of these toxins can lead to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and a lot of scary things. Is there a direct link of these problems and kids being in car seats that we can tell at this point?

DR. CALDWELL: No, but it is scary. As a parent, it is just mind-boggling. I think about my three sitting in car seats. Car seats are important as we know. The Center for Disease Control did a study this past year showing that at least half-a-million children ride in a vehicle that's unsecured, and I think we have to remember that car seats are important. Yes, it is a little scary. The study also revealed that since the initial study was done in 2008, there are some car seat manufacturers now who have reduced these toxins by 20%. So, in actuality, on some of the websites you can find information to find a free car seat versus one that doesn't have all the chemicals.

RYAN: That's my next question. A parent of two under two, this is something that I need to think about too. Less toxic car seats tend to be little more expensive. Do you think that's worth the investment? Is the threat that great that they need to make an additional investment to make sure that toxicity doesn't get to their kids?

DR. CALDWELL: As a parent, if you can afford it, yes. The other option if you cannot, would be to make sure that, your car seat is not left in a heated car. I think, with heat, and U.V. radiation on the car seat, it would be best to take that, and take it out of the car and leave it out of the car, and try not to park it in direct sunlight.

RYAN: So there's options for a good conservation to have with your pediatrician I would imagine.


RYAN: Dr. Caldwell, thank you so much for shedding a little bit of light on this subject. I appreciate you being here.

DR. CALWELL: Thank you.

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