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Until recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended keeping children in rear-facing car seats until at least the age of two. However, the AAP recently updated their guidelines to recommend that children remain rear-facing until they reach their child safety seat height and weight limits, even if they are over the age of two.
The new recommendation would leave many children in rear-facing car seats until up to the age of four. The rear-facing position has been shown to be safest for children who are involved in a car accident, as it best protects the head, neck, and legs from serious injury.
The AAP updated their guidelines for older children as well, recommending they continue riding in forward-facing safety and booster seats until they reach the manufacturers’ height and weight limits on their seats.
At this stage of development, infants have heavy heads, delicate necks, and soft spinal columns. When their bodies are jolted, as in the case of a serious car accident, their spinal column stretches, which increases the risk of serious spinal cord damage.
Imagine an infant facing forward during an accident when the car they are in suddenly collides with the car in front of them. The baby’s head would snap forward and back again, overextending the neck and damaging the delicate spinal cord.
The benefits for infants riding in rear-facing car seats are hard to dispute. A 2008 Pediatrics article reported that children under the age of two are 75 percent less likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries if they are riding rear-facing.
Since the article was published, child safety seats have advanced in quality and design, potentially making that percentage significantly even higher.
The safety benefits for children may even be greater when they are involved in a side-impact crash. Where a child facing forward may have their head snap side to side in a crash, the head of a rear-facing child is stabilized and cushioned by the sides of their seat.
In Sweden, parents have already been using these more conservative guidelines. Many Swedish children ride in rear-facing seats until up to five years of age. The country has seen a significant decrease in car accident injuries and fatalities among children, as a result. As Americans adopt the new AAP recommendations, children across the country may be spared countless serious car accident injuries.
Preventable car accidents caused by a driver’s carelessness or negligence cause millions of Americans painful and debilitating fatal injuries. When these accidents hurt our youngest family members, the impact is devastating.
Parents can do everything right to keep their children safe from harm, but some accidents are unavoidable. If you or a family member has suffered injuries resulting from a car accident, contact a Bear personal injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow.
Call 302-834-8484 or contact us online for a free initial consultation regarding your accident. We have locations in Bear, Milford, and Wilmington to serve clients in Elsmere and Seaford and throughout Delaware.