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New Recommendations for Keeping Kids Safe in Cars

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new recommendations about the best ways to keep children safe in vehicles. The kids may not like the changes, but the goal is fewer injuries in the event of a crash. The policy statement was published in an online article of the medical journal Pediatrics.

For maximum safety, the experts suggest:

For infants and toddlers up to age 2: Use rear-facing car seats. Current laws require rear-facing seats only until the child is one year old. But infants have relatively large, heavy heads…and weak neck muscles. These new guidelines are designed to prevent severe whiplash and brain injury in the event of an wreck. Smaller children will benefit from remaining rear-facing seats longer, while other children may reach the maximum height or weight before 2 years of age.

For children through age 4: Use forward-facing car seats.

For children ages 4 through 8: Use belt-positioning booster seats, in the back seat only.

For children ages 8 through 13: Use lap-and-shoulder seat belts for all children who have outgrown booster seats. In addition, all children younger than age 13 should ride in the back seats of vehicles.

Remember to update your child’s car seat or booster to meet his or her height and weight requirements. Car seats won’t protect a child who has outgrown its maximum protective ability.

According to the lead author of the policy statement, 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,” Dr. Durbin said. “For larger children, a forward-facing seat with a harness is safer than a booster, and a belt-positioning booster seat provides better protection than a seat belt alone until the seat belt fits correctly.”

To read the full recommendation, click here:  Pediatrics

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