Increase your child car seat “IQ” (Pedcast)


Hold on to your mp3 players, here we go with another edition of, where we give out free pediatric advanced learning for anyone who wants to listen.  I am the Doc and Smo of, Dr. Paul Smolen… a real bonafied board certified pediatrician with 31 years of pediatric practice. You can check out my bio on the homepage of the my blog. Thank you for joining me today.

Did you know that the leading cause of death among children in the United States is car crashes?  During 2009, for example, the CDC reported that 1,314 children ages 14 and younger died in a car crash, while 179,000 others were injured.  What makes these statistics even worse is that many of these deaths can be prevented simply by properly securing children in the required car seat, booster seat, or seat belt.  “Placing children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half,” the CDC reports.  Despite this striking statistic, more than half a million (618,000) children per year (ages 0-12) continue to ride in vehicles without the proper safety restraint. The root of the problem often lies with parent seat belt use.  If the driver is not wearing his or her seat belt, almost 40% of children are likely to be unbuckled as well.  Monkey see monkey do (or doesn’t do in this case), so be sure to set a good example for your children. Another problem with seat belt safety is that car seats are too often used incorrectly.  For example, one study reported that out of 3,500 observed car seats and booster seats, a shocking 72% of them were not being used properly.  It is not enough just to have a car seat or booster seat for your child, you must also make sure that the seat is set up and used correctly. Get help if you need it but get them in properly.   Child car restraints are very effective at preventing injury, pure and simple. If you are still not convinced, here are a few additional stats to further prove that child safety seats are worth your while:

  • Car seats reduce an infant’s risk of death by 71%
  • Car seats reduce a toddler’s risk of death by 54%
  • When compared to seat belts, booster seats reduce a child’s risk of injury by 59%

Rules of the road:

  1. Parents must use their own  seat belt on every trip (not matter how short) to set a good example for their children and it goes without saying that you must drive sober!!!
  2. Make sure your children are properly buckled into their car seat, booster seat, or seat belt—whichever is appropriate for their age, height, and weight (see guidelines below). The latest recommendation, and this is a change, is that older children stay in their booster seats until they are at least 80 pounds and 4 ft 9 inches. That’s about 11 years of age most children!  Get ready for that fight but be persistent…you must win this one: this will save many children’s lives.
  3. All children younger than 13 years old must ride in the back seat.  Airbags can injure or kill children in a crash that might otherwise have been survivable.
  4. Make sure your child knows these rules and that any person who drives your child also complies with these rules

Know the seat belt stages:

  • Children 0-2 years old: rear-facing car seat…that is another recent change.
  • Children 2-4 years old (up to 40 lbs): forward-facing car seat
  • Children 4-8 years old (40-80 lbs): booster seat
  • Children 8-12 years old (4’9” or taller & greater than 80 lbs): seat belt
    • Note: seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (not the neck)

Let’s all work together to make the roads a safer place for everyone, especially children.  Well, that’s my contribution this week. If you have some insight or comment about child car restraints, take the plunge and write a comment on my blog, and while you are at it, take a moment to subscribe and write a review on iTunes.  Bloggers live for comments and reviews so make this blogger happy and feed my obsession.  This is Dr. Paul Smolen, hoping your child gives you a big hug for making their car seat so safe and snug!

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Written collaboratively by Abbie Doelger and Paul Smolen MD