New Standard: Keep Kids in Rear-Facing Car Seats until Age 2

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Motor Vehicle Accident on Monday, March 28, 2011

Since 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics has told parents to keep infants in rear-facing car seats until they were at least 1 year old and weighed 20 pounds to protect them from injury in a car accident. That led to many parents switching the car seat around once their child turned 1.

However, experts said that some parents were misunderstanding the guidelines, which also recommended waiting until the child reached the maximum height and weight for the rear-facing seat. That is one reason why the academy recently issued new guidelines for child seats that include waiting until the child is 2 years old before using a front-facing seat.

The new standards were published in the journal Injury Prevention on March 21. Besides the age-2 minimum, the academy recommended that children over 2 stay in a forward-facing child seat with a harness until they outgrow it. Then children should sit on a booster seat until they are 4 foot 9 inches tall or reach age 8 to 12. Children should not ride in the front seat of a vehicle until they turn 13, the article with the new standards said.

Safety is the primary reason for the new recommendations. The article noted that children under age 2 who were in a car accident were 75 percent less likely to be killed or seriously injured if they were in a rear-facing seat than if they were using a front-facing seat.

The numbers of child dying in car accidents has dropped significantly since the 1990s, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Still, accidents remain the leading cause of death for children over 4 years old. Reminding parents to be cautious about “graduating” their children from rear-facing child seats can help reduce the risk of death further, said a physician who sat on the committee that wrote the new standards.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Keep child car seats facing rear until age 2, new guidelines urge,” Monifa Thomas, March 21, 2011

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