To Your Health
March, 2011 (Vol. 05, Issue 03)
Among all the children in the study, those who were properly restrained were 75 percent less likely to be injured; those who were in the front seat were 106 percent more likely to be seriously injured. In both vehicle types, children exposed to a passenger airbag were 370 percent more likely to be seriously injured.
These numbers may not implicate SUVs as more dangerous than regular vehicles, but the real shock came when the rollover crash factor was more thoroughly explored. In any type of auto accident, SUVs are four times more likely to roll over than any other passenger car, and a rollover crash increases the likelihood of serious injury by 229 percent. Risk of serious injury in an SUV increases an average of 2,400 percent for the child that is not properly restrained.
Despite the fact that the car is bigger, heavier and may feel like a tank in some cases, the increased tendency to roll after impact means that an SUV actually increases the risk of serious childhood injury.
Despite all the best intentions, there is no perfect car seat, safety seat or child restraint system because they all require installation. That's where the human factor (and human error) comes in. The NHTSA reports that more than 80 percent of all car seats are improperly installed; when properly installed, they significantly reduce the risk of childhood mortality compared to a child riding completely unrestrained.
If you're concerned about whether you've installed your child's seat correctly, even after following the manufacturer's directions, visit the NHTSA Web site, click on the Child Passenger Safety icon and then click on the Fitting/Inspection Station link. You can also call 866-SEAT-CHECK or visit www.seatcheck.org to find a seat-inspection facility near you.
Have Your Children Checked
No car seat, no matter how well it is installed, will guarantee that your child will not suffer injury in an auto accident. Don't get me wrong: It may save their life, and is infinitely better than not being in a car seat, but it doesn't mean they will escape an accident uninjured. If you and your child have recently been involved in a motor-vehicle collision (particularly one that didn't require a trip to the emergency room), contact your chiropractor to schedule a brief examination. It is better to have your child checked and find out that there is nothing wrong than to assume they are fine and find out later that there was trauma done to their still-developing spine or other areas of the body that could have lasting consequences down the road.
What Seat for What Age?
- Infants (birth to at least 1 year of age or weighing at least 20 pounds) are required to be restrained in a rear-facing convertible seat.
- Toddlers (over 1 year of age and weighing 20-40 pounds) need a forward-facing convertible seat.
- Young children (ages 4-8 years, unless at least 4' 8" tall and weighing more than 40 pounds) need a seat belt-positioning booster seat in a forward-facing seat position.
- The child can sit without a booster seat (shoulder/lap belt only) when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at around age 8 or when they are at least 4'9" tall).
- Children ages 12 and younger should ride in the backseat at all times.
Claudia Anrig, DC, practices in Fresno, Calif., and is on the board of directors of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, an organization that can answer your questions regarding the value of chiropractic care during and after pregnancy.