Update in Car Seat Guidelines
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Update in Car Seat Guidelines

Friday, November 30, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

Auto accidents are still the number one cause of death for children. Parents are now being advised to keep children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible according to a report to be published in November, 2018 in Pediatrics. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that children should not be placed in forward facing safety seats until they exceed the weight and height limits for more secure rear-facing seats. Rear-facing seats have been shown to be the safest types of car seats for infants and toddlers.

A rear-facing car seat has various safety advantages over forward facing seats. When a child sits in a rear facing position, his head, neck, spine are supported by the hard exterior of the seat. The car seat, rather than the child, absorbs the impact of a crash. In contrast, in a forward-facing seat, the impact of a collision causes a child’s head to jerk forward while his body is restrained in a harness. This movement could cause head and spinal injuries.

The new recommendation is a change in AAP policy which previously set an age limit for using rear-facing car seats at 2 years old. The organization says that changes in car seat specifications has allowed for the implementation of new safety standards. Rear-seats can now accommodate children up to 40 pounds. The average weight of a two-year-old toddler is 24-28 pounds. This means children can remain in these seats well past the age of two.

The old recommendation to keep children in rear-facing car seats until age 2 focused on studies that displayed a lower incidence of injury in this age group. But the research that supported this study was later called into question and subsequently withdrawn based on the lack of adequate data. For this reason, the AAP refrained from issuing recommendations for rear-facing car seats based on age alone but still advised that this is the preferred type of restraint system for children. The recommendation to keep children in rear facing seats reflects current and widespread knowledge that this is the safest form of transportation until children surpass the weight and height limitations for these seats.  

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