Carbon monoxide and your baby
Carbon monoxide (also called CO) is a poisonous gas that has no taste, color or smell. Cars, trucks, stoves and heating systems make fumes that contain CO. CO from these fumes can build up in places that don’t have good air flow.
If you breathe in too much CO, your blood has trouble carrying oxygen through your body. This is called CO poisoning. It’s important to protect both you and your baby from CO poisoning.
How can CO poisoning affect your baby’s health?
CO poisoning can cause health problems and even death. Anyone can get CO poisoning, but it’s more dangerous for babies than for adults.
Signs and symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Fatigue (feeling very tired)
- Lung and brain damage
- Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
- Trouble breathing
If you think your baby has CO poisoning, call 911 and get medical care as soon as possible.
How can you keep your baby safe from CO poisoning?
Here’s what you can do:
- Install CO detectors in your home, especially in or near bedrooms. You can buy detectors at hardware and home-supply stores. Check the batteries often to be sure the detectors work. If the detector goes off, leave your house immediately and call 911.
- Have your heating system, water heater and gas, oil or coal-burning appliances (like furnaces, wood stoves and fireplaces) checked by a professional each year.
- Don’t use your oven or stove to heat your house.
- Make sure your stove and fireplace are vented so that CO doesn’t build up in your home.
- Don’t use a charcoal grill, generator, camping stove or other gasoline or coal-burning equipment inside your home or in any enclosed space.
- Don’t leave your car or truck running in a garage, even if the garage door is open.
Last reviewed September 2014
Frequently Asked Questions
Are plastic baby bottles that use BPA & phthalates safe?
Scientists are debating whether BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates pose a risk to children's health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concerns about chemicals used in plastics. BPA is used to make plastics clear, strong and hard to break. Some baby bottles, dishes and toys contain this chemical. Some research has found that bisphenol A can affect the brain, behavior and prostate gland in infants and children.
If you're concerned, buy BPA-free plastic baby products. You can also use baby bottles made of glass, polypropylene or polyethylene. If you use plastics, avoid plastics numbered 3 or 7 (look for the number in a triangle typically found on the bottom of containers). Use plastics numbered 1, 2 and 4. If plastic baby bottles and infant cups contain BPA, discard them if they have scratches. Don't put boiling or very hot liquids, such as formula, into plastic bottles or containers that contain BPA.