Kids safest in rear-facing car seats until age 2

Mar 21, 2011 By CARLA K. JOHNSON , AP Medical Writer

Children should ride in rear-facing car seats longer, until they are 2 years old instead of 1, according to updated advice from a medical group and a federal agency.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the issued separate but consistent new recommendations Monday.

Both organizations say older children who've outgrown front-facing car seats should ride in booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits them. Booster seats help position adult seat belts properly on children's smaller frames. Children usually can graduate from a booster seat when their height reaches 4 feet 9 inches.

Children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat, the guidelines from both groups say.

The advice may seem extreme to some parents, who may imagine trouble convincing older elementary school kids - as old as 12 - to use booster seats.

But it's based on evidence from crashes. For older children, poorly fitting seat belts can cause abdominal and spine injuries in a crash.

One-year-olds are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if they are in a rear-facing car seat than a forward-facing seat, according to a 2007 analysis of five years of U.S. crash data.

Put another way, an estimated 1,000 children injured in forward-facing seats over 15 years might not have been hurt if they had been in a car seat facing the back, said Dr. Dennis Durbin, lead author of the recommendations and a pediatric emergency physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Toddlers have relatively large heads and small necks. In a front-facing car seat, the force of a crash can jerk the child's head causing .

Car seats have recommended weights printed on them. If a 1-year-old outweighs the recommendation of an infant seat, parents should switch to a different rear-facing car seat that accommodates the heavier weight until they turn 2, the pediatricians group says.

Luckily for parents, most car seat makers have increased the amount of weight the seats can hold. This year, about half of infant rear-facing seats accommodate up to 30 pounds, Durbin said. Ten years ago, rear-facing car seats topped out at weighing 22 pounds.

"The good news is it's likely parents currently have a car seat that will accommodate the change," Durbin said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations appear Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Explore further: Off-season doesn't allow brain to recover from football hits, study says

More information:
American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www.aap.org

NHTSA: http://www.nhtsa.gov

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Back seat less safe: Australian study

Aug 31, 2010

Adults who ride in the back of new cars are at higher risk of serious injury during an accident than those in the front seat, new research has found.

Scientist Seeks to Improve Car Seat Safety for Children

Sep 28, 2006

Chris Sherwood studies what happens to children in car crashes. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children from 2 to 14 years old. In 2003, ...

SUVs no safer than passenger cars for children, new study

Jan 04, 2006

PartNew research from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia shows that children riding in SUVs have similar injury risks to children who ride in passenger cars. The study, published today in the journal Pediatrics, ...

Recommended for you

Smoking's toll on mentally ill analyzed

7 hours ago

Those in the United States with a mental illness diagnosis are much more likely to smoke cigarettes and smoke more heavily, and are less likely to quit smoking than those without mental illness, regardless ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

A new nano-membrane made out of the 'super material' graphene is extremely light and breathable. Not only can this open the door to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing, but also to ultra-rapid filtration. The ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...