AAP Updates Car Seat Recommendations

Child injuries affect countless children and their families every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. According to Healthy Children, child fatalities following a motor vehicle crash are the “tip of the iceberg; for every fatality, roughly 18 children are hospitalized and more than 400 are injured seriously enough to require medical treatment”. Small children, specifically infants and toddlers, face an increased risk of injury through the improper use of child safety seats.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently amended its policy regarding child safety seats. In April of 2011, the AAP published a new policy in their Pediatrics magazine. The AAP now advises parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum weight and height for their car seat. The previous 2002 policy advised that toddlers and infants face rear up until the limits of the car seat. The old policy also set forth minimums that stated an infant or toddler should be 12 months and 20 pounds before turning the seat around. According to the APP, this resulted in many parents turning the seat around to face front once their infant or toddler reached age one. This premature turning off the seat places children at greater risk of injury.

There are several advantages of leaving an infant’s car seat rear-facing until they reach the proper height and weight. According to Dr. Dennis Durbin, MD, FAAP, “A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck, and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body”. The thought of young children and head injuries is a preventable concept.

Some additional rules of thumb for children and car seats set forth by the AAP are as follows:

  1. Children, in a car seat or not, should not ride in the front seat of a motor vehicle until they are 13 years old.
  2. When making the transition from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat, a forward-facing seat with a harness should be used.
  3. A child safety seat or booster seat should be used until the seat belt lies across your child’s shoulder and chest, not anywhere close to the face or neck.

Child injuries, unfortunately, play a devastating part in the lives of far too many kids. Education on these topics makes many injuries preventable and sparks ideas for innovation. Proper use of a safety seat can prevent unnecessary child brain injuries, and child heads injuries. Read more about the approved car seats for children. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put together an Ease of Use list to help parents find the child safety seat that is best fit for their needs.

If your child has suffered a child injury, it is important proper treatment is sought immediately. Healthguideusa.org has compiled a list of Missouri hospitals specializing in the needs of child injuries.

If your child’s injury was caused by the carelessness or negligence of another person, you should immediately contact a child injury attorney familiar with child injury law. Child injuries, specifically a child traumatic brain injury, can have devastating long term effects. Skilled child injury lawyer Chris Dixon, will fight for reimbursement for all of your child’s harms and losses.