Parents need to know more about car seat safety
Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! The doctors have cleared you and your baby and you are ready to go home, but are you? According to research that was presented Monday, Oct. 13 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition in San Diego, nearly all parents unknowingly put their newborn infants at risk as soon as they drive away from the hospital due to mistakes made with car seats.
A study of 267 families at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital showed that 93 percent made at least one critical error in positioning their infant in a car safety seat or when installing the safety seat in the vehicle.
The study included randomly selected mom and baby pairs in the hospital’s obstetrics unit from November 2013 to May 2014. Infants born at less than 37 weeks’ and those who stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for more than four hours were excluded from the study.
A certified child passenger safety technician observed new mothers placing their child in the car seat and installing the seat in the vehicle in which they would be leaving the hospital. The technician recorded all misuses based on car safety seat and vehicle manufacturer recommendations. Prior to departure, technicians helped caregivers correct all mistakes.
The most common errors in positioning the infant from the study included:
- Harness being too loose (69 percent)
- Retainer clip too low (34 percent)
- Use of after-market product not approved with seat (20 percent)
- Harness too high (18 percent)
- Caregiver not knowing how to adjust the harness (15 percent)
- The most common installation errors were:
- Car safety seat installed too loosely (43 percent)
- Angle of car safety seat incorrect (36 percent)
- Safety belt used but not locked (23 percent)
- Incorrect spacing between car safety seat and vehicle front seat (17 percent)
“This is the perfect example of a situation where you really need to read the instruction manual”, says Advocate Medical Group pediatrician Aaron Traeger. “Don’t accept it being “good enough.” It really should be perfect every single time.” Christine Stauter, certified car seat safety technician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center encourages everyone to seek out one of the car seat safety check events that are held at least monthly in their community to have the seat checked.
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