Lisa Smith faced her worst nightmare on June 10, 2015, when she received a phone call telling her that her daughter hadn’t woken up from her nap while at daycare. Her 17-month-old daughter Mia had died while sleeping in her car seat due to asphyxia. Now, Smith is opening up about the tragedy in hopes that other parents won’t have to endure similar heartbreak.
According to People, Mia was a happy and healthy little girl when her mother dropped her off for daycare back in 2015. She attended an in-home daycare in Iowa, attended by a licensed professional who had been looking after her for much of her short life. Mia died while sleeping in her car seat as a result of what is believed to be mechanical or positional asphyxia. While the toddler was napping, the position of her car seat allowed her head to slump forward. Due to the angle of her neck, Mia was unable to breathe properly, causing her to become brain dead.
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Smith recalls the terrible moment that the doctors informed her that her daughter was brain dead. “When they [doctors] came in and told us that she didn’t have any more brain activity,” explained Smith, “all I did was I turn to the doctor and said, ‘I know.'”
Dr. Natalie Azar, an NBC News medical contributor, provided insight into how the position of the car seat led to Mia’s death.
“Positional asphyxia is when the baby’s sleeping position prevents him or her from breathing adequately. When a car seat is in the car, it’s reclined at 45 degrees. This allows the baby’s head and neck to rest backwards so that it’s not slumped forward and blocking the airway.”
Car seats are meant to secure a child’s safety and comfort. Most parents are likely unaware of the dangers that they can cause if not positioned properly. The straps of the car seat should be properly tightened, allowing the child’s head to remain erect even while they sleep. Parents should know that car seats are built primarily for vehicle seats which allow them to slant backwards in the position they are intended. Even when positioned properly, it is not recommended that a child ever be left unattended while sleeping in a car seat.
Years after the crushing loss of Mia, Smith is honoring her young daughter by ensuring no other parents needlessly lose a child in this manner. She hopes that her heartbreaking story will help educate others about the dangers of car seats and how quickly and quietly this tragedy can happen.