New Studies on Appropriate Car Seat Use
Booster Seats Are Safer
The journal “Pediatrics” published the results of a study, conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, confirming previous reports that it’s safer to keep children aged 4 through 8 in a booster seat during car travel.
The new study gives us solid figures: Children in belt-positioning booster seats are 45% less likely to sustain injuries in a crash than children using standard safety belts.
Booster seats protected children even better during side-impact crashes, reducing the risk of injury 68% for near-side impacts and 82 % for far-side impacts. The most common type of injury children sustain in vehicle crashes is a head injury, accounting for 65 % of all injuries regardless of the type of restraint used. The data did not show a difference in the level of protection using a high-back booster or a backless booster seat.
The good news?
The study considered injuries sustained in 21,943 crashes in which at least one child received medical attention, as well as crashes where no children were injured, and the vast majority of injuries were not fatal, whether children wore a regular seat belt or used a booster seat.
Car Seats for the Car Only
It bears repeating that parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics car seat guidelines to keep their children safe during road trips. But it’s equally important to note the danger that exists when parents keep infants in car seats for extended periods when they are not traveling.
In a related article, CBS News reported the results of a study presented to the AAP that shows 8,700 emergency room visits resulting from inappropriate use of a car seat/carrier.
Most of the injuries occurred when parents placed car seat/carriers on soft surfaces, like beds and sofas, or high surfaces like counters and tabletops. This causes a risk of suffocation in infants, but babies can also suffer injuries to the head or extremities if the car seat tips or falls.
If you do place your baby in a carrier:
- Place the carrier on flat ground only.
- Be aware in public places; do not place the carrier and baby in high-foot-traffic areas.
- Avoid keeping baby in the carrier for long periods of time every day; this can lead to weak muscles and flat spots on the head.
The Bottom Line on Car Seat Safety
Car seats are intended for use in motor vehicles to protect infants, toddlers and children from injury in a crash. Use a car seat or booster seat, for as long as possible with your child, for its intended purpose. But don’t leave your infant in a carrier/car seat for extended lengths of time when you’re not traveling.