95 percent of new parents install car seats incorrectly

95 percent of new parents install car seats incorrectly

Nearly all new parents make at least one serious error when installing and using a car safety seat, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University looked at how 291 new parents installed their car seat and positioned their newborn in the seat upon discharge from the hospital.

The results were startling: 95 percent of the families made at least one error in car seat use, with 91 percent making a serious error. Even 83 percent of the parents who worked with a certified car seat safety technician had at least one error.

The most common errors were loose harness and seat installation, incorrect recline angle and low chest clip.

“This is just another reminder that small things make a big difference in regards to the safety of our kids,” says Dr. Aaron Traeger, an Advocate Children’s Medical Group pediatrician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Pay attention to details and don’t rush through the installation steps.”

Dr. Traeger and the study both recommend new parents work with certified car seat technicians when installing the car seat for the first time.

“Once that is done, take time to make sure every step is done right every time,” Dr. Traeger says.

Researchers concluded that more needs to be done to improve infant safety.

“Car safety seats are much more difficult to use correctly than they should be,” said lead researcher Dr. Benjamin Hoffman in a news release. “Vehicle and car seat manufacturers must work together to develop systems that are easier for consumers to use and understand.”

Dr. Luis Torero, a pediatric critical care physician with the Emergency Room at Advocate Children’s Hospital, agrees.

“We see too many preventable injuries that might have been avoided with proper car seat use,” says Dr. Torero. “Car seats are very complex and the instructions can be confusing. For the well-being of your child, I recommend that parents take the extra time needed to install and use car seats correctly in order to keep your child safe.”

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  1. When I had my twins in Arizona 10 years ago, the hospital I delivered at offered a car seat installation class for parents (as well as grandparents), where you bring your car seat & a certified installation expert teaches you car seat safety as well as has you install it & checks it. When I delivered my son 2 years ago at Lutheran General in Park Ridge, I inquired about such a class & was surprised to hear they didn’t offer anything like that & told me to go find one. This class could be a lifesaver and should most definitely be offered at all hospitals!

  2. Alix McNulty

    Hi Li, I’m new to Advocate Children’s Hospital and in my role as the Injury Prevention Coordinator I am working on programs such as car seat installation education. I’ve just launched a pilot program at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn and I hope to get to a point where we can roll this program out across all of Advocate Health Care.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.