The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now specifically recommending that parents keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until two years old or until they surpass the weight and/or height limitations per the seat’s manufacturer.
The new policy statement is published in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics.
Previous recommendations advised caregivers to keep children in rear-facing seats as long as possible (which has not changed) and recommended a child be at least one year old and 20 pounds, which a lot of people interpreted as the best time to make the change to a forward-facing seat. So the new recommendation is actually a clarification.
Although, many parents are resistant to the follow the advice, either because they have already made the switch to a forward-facing seat or because they just can’t imagine their toddler putting up with facing backwards, there is backbone behind the recommendation.
The results of a study published in 2007 in Injury Prevention found that children under two years old are 75 percent less likely to die or to be seriously injured in a car accident if they are in a rear-facing car seat. And yet another study found that a child is five times safer in a rear-facing seat.
A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash according to Dennis Durbin, M.D., who was lead author of the AAP’s policy statement and a pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Following these guidelines will give parents peace of mind that they are doing the best job they can of protecting their children from injury in the event of a car crash,” Durbin said.
To read more about car safety seats and general guidelines regarding their use, visit the AAP’s website, http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx. The site is filled with helpful information for parents on the proper use of car seats, correct installation, and answers to commonly asked questions regarding car seat safety.
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