Car safety seats save lives of babies, toddlers: study
Car safety seats are effective at reducing the odds that toddlers will die in a vehicle collision, new research in the U.S. suggests.
Researchers in California said the odds of infants and children younger than 12 months dying in a collision dropped by nearly three-quarters if they were placed in a safety seat, compared with no restraint.
The safety seats also reduced the mortality risk for toddlers, the study's authors wrote in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
"The findings from this study indicate that child restraints greatly reduce the risk of death among children 3 years and younger involved in severe traffic collisions," the researchers said.
Car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children older than one year, according to background information in the study.
According to Transport Canada, 10,000 children under the age of 12 are injured in traffic accidents every year.
Car seats vs. seat belts
In the study, Thomas Rice, a research epidemiologist at the Traffic Safety Center in the department of environmental sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleague analyzed data on children who died in motor vehicle collisions between 1996 and 2005.
More than 6,000 collisions with complete data were compared with a closely matched group of vehicles involved in nonfatal collisions.
The results were:
- The odds of a baby under one year of age dying in a car accident dropped by 73 per cent if the infant was riding in a baby car seat.
- For children between one and two, the odds of dying in a collision went down by 76 per cent if they were properly restrained.
- For 2- to 3-year-olds, the odds of a fatality in a car crash fell by about 60 per cent if the toddler was in a car seat.
The safety seats seemed to be most effective at preventing deaths in rollovers, rural settings and accidents involving light trucks, the researchers said.
"Child safety seats are highly effective in reducing the risk of death during severe traffic collisions and generally outperform seat belts," the study's authors concluded.
"Parents should be encouraged to use child safety seats in favour of seat belts."
Experts recommend using age-appropriate child restraints and checking the weight guidelines, which differ between models.