The children may be exposed to dangers associated with heat like stroke, asphyxia, fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc.
New Delhi: Leaving children locked unattended in cars with windows closed can prove fatal, a study by AIIMS doctors has revealed. The children may be exposed to dangers associated with heat like stroke, asphyxia, fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc. which can eventually lead to their death.
“The temperature inside the car rises exponentially, especially in summers, when the outside temperature is above 30 degrees. Due to this, the body temperature of the child locked inside, rises above the normal temperature and it affects the brain, which goes into an irreversible state of damage,” said Dr Sudhir K Gupta, head of department of forensic medicine, AIIMS.
Doctors described this condition as hyperthermia, in which the body temperature rises above 106° Fahrenheit (41.5° Celsius). The condition was recognised after a team of doctors from the forensic department of AIIMS came across a case around two years ago where a six-year-old child was found dead inside a car parked in the driveway of a house in Delhi. “The case occurred during the month of August when the climate is very hot and humid.
During the autopsy, any kind of poisoning was ruled out. Upon histopathological examination the lungs showed marked congestion and the cause of death was concluded as asphyxia as a result of aspiration,” said Dr Abhishek Yadav, assistant professor, department of forensic medicine, AIIMS. Children are more prone to develop heat related injuries as they have a higher body surface area and their heat regulating mechanisms are not as developed as adults.
In the September issue of the Journal of Indian Academy of Forensic Medicine, which was co-authored by Dr Yadav, the doctors talked about ignorance in the normal population about the issue.
“Leaving children in cars is a common phenomenon in our cities. It can lead to heat related fatality even in winters if the car is parked in sunlight. While writing the journal, we came across several cases where children died after being locked inside cars. This happened in two situations, either because they gained access to unlocked cars or they were left unattended intentionally or unintentionally,” said Dr Yadav.
The journal recommends proper education of the general public through newspapers, television, or other mediums about heat related fatalities.
“It is a well recognised problem in western countries but in a developing country like India, the dangers associated with children and parked cars are yet to be recognised and conveyed to the population which is seemingly ignorant about it. So, such kinds of fatalities are infrequently reported,” said the journal.