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: E-cigarettes: growing, but fragmented $3 bn market

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

Venezuela battles obesity amid dearth of good food

1 hour ago

Venezuela's socialist government is sounding the alarm about growing waistlines in a country where record food shortages are making it harder to put healthy meals on the table, prompting many people to fill ...

E-cigarettes: growing, but fragmented $3 bn market

11 hours ago

The World Health Organization took aim Tuesday at e-cigarettes, the increasingly popular, ostensibly safer tobacco substitute which WHO nevertheless says poses a serious threat to young people. ...

User comments : 0