TW: Mentions of child death. Ryne and Rachel Jungling's son Anders died at daycare when he was left to sleep in his car seat. The one-year-old died on January 12 when Rachel left him, awake but sleepy, in his seat when she dropped him off. The official cause of death was positional asphyxia, meaning his airway was cut off when his head drooped to his chin, TODAY reports. Now Ryne is doing everything he can to warn other parents of the dangers of allowing a child to sleep in a car seat.
Despite numerous warnings by healthcare professionals not to let children sleep in car seats when they are not being used in a car, many parents often let their children slumber away, not knowing the dangers it can pose. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2015 showed that of the 47 deaths reported involving sitting or carrying devices such as car seats and baby seats, 46 were caused by asphyxia (positional or strangulation), with two-thirds of the deaths involving car seats.
Jungling has teamed up with Safe Kids Worldwide to share his story in the hopes of preventing any other parent from experiencing the heartbreak his family has gone through and to promote safe sleeping practices for children.
Lorrie Walker of Safe Kids Worldwide explained to TODAY that when a car seat is being used in a car, the 45-degree angle it sits at helps keep children positioned properly. “That enables a baby to keep their head back and the airway open,” she explained. “Their little neck muscles aren’t developed enough for them to sit up for long periods of time, so that angle is very important.”
The Junglings are also parents to Anders twin sister Linnea and son Elias, whom they welcomed just last week. The family is working hard to keep Anders' memory alive. "Linnea was just 11 months old when Anders died. One of our first questions was, 'How long will she remember him?'" Ryne said. "Some brain research that we came across said that if you are a year old, you remember about six weeks. That was tough. That's why we keep talking about him."
The family is speaking out in hopes of educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of allowing children to sleep in car seats while not in the car.
“Anders' death was 100 percent preventable,” Ryne said. “We want to make sure this never happens to anyone else.”