SATURDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Incorrect use of child
safety seats is a major reason why car accidents remain the leading
cause of disability and death among children in the United States,
an expert warns.
Research has shown that seven out of 10 car seats are not
installed correctly, Dr. Karen Judy, an associate professor in the
pediatrics department at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School
of Medicine, noted in a Loyola news release.
She added that the proper use of safety seats is essential for
"If your child weighs less than 80 pounds and is shorter than 57 inches, a seat belt will lay across the child's neck and belly. In the event of an accident this puts pressure on sensitive areas with the potential for serious injuries, including spinal cord and abdominal injuries or even death. No matter how short the trip, if your child is in the car, he or she should be in a child safety seat," Judy said in the news release.
To help keep children safe while traveling in a car, Judy
offered the following tips:
- Use the correct type of car seat for a child's age, height and
weight. Most infant safety seats only hold up to 22 pounds and
should always be used in a rear-facing position. Children in car
seats should not face forward until they are older than 1 year and
weigh more than 20 pounds. Children should continue using
forward-facing car seats until they are older than age 4 years, or
weigh more than 40 pounds.
- Children aged 4 to 8 years should use a booster seat and
continue to do so until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches or
taller, regardless of their age.
- Children younger than 13 years of age should not sit in the
front seat because they could be crushed by air bags if they
- Read the instructions that came with the car seat as well as
your vehicle owner's manual thoroughly before installing the safety
seat in the car. Have a professional check to ensure the seat is
installed correctly. Your local police station should have
information on safety seat inspection sites in your area.
- Never install a safety seat in the front seat of a car.
- When a child is in a safety seat, the harness should be level
with the shoulders and the straps should be secure and tight.
- If possible, don't use a secondhand car seat. If you do, make
certain it's never been in an accident and has all the parts,
including instructions. Never use a car seat that's six or more
"By taking simple but important measures, parents can protect their children from the number one killer in our nation," Judy stated. She added that "studies have shown that by taking these precautions the likelihood of your child being killed or disabled in a motor vehicle crash decreases significantly. It's an easy way to save kids' lives."
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more