Posted On: May 17, 2011 by Patrick A. Malone

Pediatricians recommend rear-facing car seats until age 2

The American Academy of Pediatrics has new advice for parents about how to buckle their children in their cars. In a new policy published last month, the AAP advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. In addition, it recommends that children ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4’9” and are between 8 and 12 years of age.

Previously, the AAP advised parents to keep infants and toddlers rear-facing up to the limits of the car seat but also set a minimum of age 12 months and 20 pounds, which resulted in many parents turning the seat to face the front of the car when their child celebrated his or her first birthday.

“Parents often look forward to transitioning from one stage to the next, but these transitions should generally be delayed until they’re necessary, when the child fully outgrows the limits for his or her current stage,” said Dennis Durbin, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement and accompanying technical report.

“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,” 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.”

While the death rate of children in motor vehicle crashes dropped by 45% between 1997 and 2009, it is still the leading cause of death for children ages 4 and older. Counting children and teens up to age 21, there are more than 5,000 deaths each year. And for each death, about 18 children require hospitalization and another 400 need medical treatment.

Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics

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