You wouldn't have your children play soccer without shin-guards or ride a bike without a helmet or go swimming without a life jacket. So why would you consider not buckling your children up the right way in a car?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for children ages four years and older. This is why the AAP has updated its recommendations on car seats which advise that children should ride in rear-facing car seats until the age of two and use a booster until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Susan O'Connor RN, Patient and Community Educator for St. John's Birth Center, further explains what these recommendations entail, why they changed them, and how you can get more information and help to make sure you child is safe. There will be a car seat check point on June 18 at the parking lot at 9th and Carpenter St.
O'Connor, who is also a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, said, “In my experience, parents tend to move their children to the next type of seat or graduate their kids to a seat belt too soon either because it is easier to use or because of peer pressure. However, when installed properly and used consistently, car seats can reduce the risk of injury by as much as 82% and the risk of death by 28%.”
Car seats not only prevent a child from being thrown from the car, but also disperse the force of the crash to the strongest parts of the child's body (shoulders, sternum and hips) with rear facing seats providing the best protection for the child's head, neck and spine.
These facts combined with the growing body of evidence in regards to child restraint usage, made it necessary to change the current car seat recommendations. The previous policy agreed that infants and toddlers were to ride rear-facing up to the limits of the car seat, but it also said twelve months and twenty pounds were the minimum, which led parents to ditch the rear-facing seats when their child turned one year old.
Now the AAP recommends all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are two years of age or preferably until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat's manufacturer. For children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat, a belt positioning booster seat should be used until the vehicle seat bet fits properly.
“The child must be tall enough to be able to sit with their back against the vehicle seat with their knees bent comfortably at the edge of the seat without slouching and the shoulder belt portion of their seat belt should ride across their chest and shoulder- not against their neck or face for the entire ride,” O'Connor said.
Children typically are able to sit properly in a regular seat when they are four feet and nine inches in height which is usually between the ages of eight and twelve. O'Connor explains that if children are sitting without a booster seat too soon, they will more than likely move the seat belt to a more comfortable position for them, which is either under their arm or behind their back so it is not in their face. Both of these positions can cause serious injuries in an accident, which are referred to as “Seatbelt Syndrome.”
The final recommendations state all children must be at least thirteen years old to ride in the front passenger seat because the back seat is farther away from the crash impact point in front end collisions.
Submitted by Springfield Moms premium sponsor St. John's Children's Hospital. For information on their services, click here.
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