Professor Ed Mitchell
SUDI Academic Expert
Auckland University

Ed Mitchell qualified at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London and has worked in the UK, Zambia and New Zealand.

He was the Cure Kids Professor of Child Health Research at the University of Auckland from 2001 to 2015 and is now a Professorial Research Fellow. He has published over 400 original papers, particularly on the epidemiology of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). He was awarded a Doctor of Science for his work on “The Epidemiology and Prevention of SIDS” by the University of London. He has received several awards for his landmark studies of SIDS and in 2009 was made a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Professor Ed Mitchell answers questions from the community.

Is it safe to leave babies to sleep in car seats/capsules for extended periods of time as sometimes parents don't want to wake baby after traveling?

Babies will often fall asleep in a car seat when travelling. Not surprisingly it is tempting to leave the baby asleep in the capsule when they arrive home. But is it safe? Studies of babies in car seats show that their head may flop forward and cause partial airway obstruction and hypoxia (low oxygen levels). This will briefly wake baby up (micro-arousals). Despite these concerns, SUDI in a car seat is rare. In the 3-year Nationwide SUDI Study there was only 1 death (out of 137) that occurred in a car seat. In comparison there were 7 control (living) babies (out of 249) in a car seat during the comparison sleep. This suggests it isn’t dangerous in healthy babies, but I would be concerned about repeated hypoxia in low tone babies, such as those with Down syndrome.

  • car seat
  • car
  • sleep