January 3, 2006

Child Injury Risk Similar in SUVs, Cars: Study

CHICAGO -- Sports utility vehicles do not offer child passengers added protection in a crash compared to cars because SUVs are more likely to roll over in an accident, researchers said on Tuesday.

Though the added weight of SUVs conferred some protection in non-rollover accidents, the vehicles were twice as likely as cars to roll over during a wreck, the report published in the journal Pediatrics said.

"Contrary to public perception, SUVs do not provide superior protection to child occupants, compared with passenger cars," wrote lead author Dr. Lauren Daly of A.I. Dupont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware.

"The potential safety advantage of SUVs resulting from their heavier weight seems to be offset by other factors, including the greater tendency of SUVs to roll over in a crash," she wrote.

The study examined a sample from more than 72,000 children aged 15 or younger who were involved in crashes. The injuries sustained were to the brain, spinal cord, face, internal organs and limbs and included concussions, fractures and lacerations.

The highest odds of injury occurred among children riding unbelted in an SUV that rolled over.

Another strong risk factor for children age 13 or younger was from an air bag deploying while they rode in the front seat, and Daly recommended children always ride in rear seats.