Booster Seat Laws Limit Injury And Death
November 6, 2012

Booster Seat Laws Limit Injury And Death

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Buckle up—that´s the recommendation safety experts give to passengers in an automobile. However, even though buckles can provide safety, they may be harmful for some children who may need booster seats along with seat belts. In particular, scientists from Boston Children´s Hospital recently conducted research on booster seat laws and found that a standardized booster seat law could be imperative in helping save more lives.

The findings pertain to children who are four feet, nine inches and shorter or up to eight years of age. The results of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics.

"Based on our findings, booster seat use for children under the age of 8 or 4 feet 9 inches really should go beyond causal suggestion," remarked the study´s lead author Dr. Rebekah Mannix, a member of the Boston Children's Division of Emergency Medicine, in a prepared statement. "It's clear that these laws save lives and we recommended all states adopt them."

In the project, the researchers looked at data form the Fatality Analytic Reporting System (FARS). They studied factors related to child deaths in car accidents, specifically analyzing whether the crash or related injuries or deaths occurred in a state that had or did not have a booster seat law. Various states had differing age and height requirements. For states that did have a booster law in place, the researchers took note of the age and height requirements included in the law. A total of 9,848 cases were looked at over a span of ten years.

Based on the findings, the scientists found that booster seat laws in states correlated with fewer situations of injury or death due to car accidents. The impact of the laws was particularly significant for children between the ages of six and seven years of age. States with booster seat laws for children up to six to seven years of age had a 35 percent reduced rate of injury or death. As well, children between the ages of four and six years of age had a 20 percent decreased rate for injury or death in states with booster seat laws as opposed to states that did not have these laws.

According to the researchers, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advised that children sit in booster seats with positioning belts until they grow too large for the seat (around four years of age) or until the child is approximately four feet and nine inches (around eight years of age). Children who do not meet these requirements and are not in booster seats have a higher risk of having the seat belt on the abdomen and the throat, which can cause significant injuries to the intestines or the spine or even be deadly.

"At the end of the day we all want children to be safe," noted Dr. Lois Lee, a co-author of the study and director of Trauma Researcher at Boston Children´s Hospital, in the statement. "Data show booster seat laws help protect children, and we hope it can convince lawmakers to adopt laws that require kids to be in the proper child passenger restraint (car seat and booster seat) until the recommended age and height."