There are many dangers out there that new parents need to worry about. While babies are resilient, they are also fragile, so much so that nearly everything around them could harm them, including even the most innocent-seeming objects, like a single hair, and as one family learned, a human hair can actually be fatal to an infant.
Their story was written about in Pediatrics, the journal put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The article describes a 19-month-old boy whose parents woke one night to their five-year-old daughter screaming. They ran into the bedroom she shares with the infant, over to her bed where the two kids co-slept. The little boy was unconscious and blue. They called 911 and an ambulance took the boy to the hospital. Thankfully, on the way, he regained consciousness.
Once in the ER, the boy checked out okay, but doctors noticed a mark around his neck as well as red dots on his cheeks, which tend to occur after strangulation. Since he almost died, child services and law enforcement were sent to the family’s home to investigate. They discovered that the five-year-old girl’s hair was to blame. Since the two kids slept in the same bed, a strand or two of her hair got tightly wrapped around the baby’s throat in a condition known as hair tourniquet syndrome, causing the strangulation.
The phenomenon usually happens when hair or a thread wraps around a baby’s appendage, like a finger or a toe, which is also dangerous and can lead to amputation, but in rare occasions like this one, it can happen with an infant’s neck. It most often affects kids ages four months to two years, and parents will likely be aware something is up because their child is irritable and crying a lot. They’ll also notice redness and tenderness on the appendage, and might even see a groove in the area that looks like a crease in the baby’s folds but is being caused by the hair or thread.
As for how to prevent it, new parents should brush their hair often so loose strands don’t fall out near their child. It might even be best to have hair tied back while tending to the baby. Also, parents should do regular checks on their infants’ fingers, toes and other appendages to ensure they are free of hair and threads.