Here in Australia, we know the importance of keeping babies cool in the summer heat, but is a common thing that most of us do to help us keep the sun from babies actually putting them at risk?
Researchers in Sweden suggest that by covering up a pram – even with a thin cloth like a muslin wrap – actually creates a furnace-like heat within the pram, reducing the air circulation. Young children are more sensitive to heat than older children or adults, as their body temperature can rise three-to-five times faster. This puts them at greater risk of heatstroke and other health risks, such as major organ damage and even sudden death, as their body temperature reaches dangerous levels much sooner.
We know that cars heat up rapidly on a hot day, but what about prams?
“It gets extremely hot down in the pram, something like a thermos. There is also bad circulation of the air and it is hard to see the baby with a cover over the pram,” says Svante Norgren, paediatrician at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s hospital in Stockholm.
An experiment conducted in Sweden revealed on a 20ºC day and without a cover the pram temperature reached 22ºC. A thin cover placed over a pram for the next 30 minutes, by which time the heat rises to 34ºC. After an hour it reaches 37ºC. Remember, that is Swedish summer heat – around 30ºC tops – here in parts of Australia we see temperatures much higher than that.
We often see mums and dads walking with covered prams. They believe that the baby is being protected, and they don’t understand that the opposite may well be happening. It can get very, very hot even on a mild day. Parents may think the baby is fine because it is sleeping a lot, but that can actually be more of a concern because an overheated baby may initially be irritable and then become sleepy.
So what is the advice here?
We wish to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which CMS and its service are located, and their Elders past and present.