Occasionally, caregivers arrive at checkup stations or events with a CR that was not made for our market and/or is lacking labels that say it is approved for use here. In this situation, what should a CPST do?
As you know, there have been communications and on-going technical reviews regarding the validity of the 2007 study comparing the injury risk between rear- and forward-facing car seats for children less than 2 years of age in the United States (Henary et al, 2007). Some of these communications may have caused uncertainty regarding child passenger safety and educational messages given to caregivers.
It is important to note that all the studies in question demonstrate the value and effectiveness that car seats play in keeping children safe while traveling.
Published: SRN July/August, 2017. Updates will be posted here as they become available.
Update: August 31, 2018. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised their policy on child passenger safety.
Update December 2017: “Updated Study on RF vs. FF Effectiveness.”
Update mid-November 2017: “Car Sear Orientation and Safety.”
Update September 2017: “NHTSA Policy Reaffirmation.”
Over the past year, certain developments have caused some CPS advocates to be concerned and/or confused about the relative safety of children riding rear facing versus forward facing. Testimony in a recent lawsuit that questioned the benefits of extended RF, changes to RF and FF requirements in CR instructions, and updated state laws have all contributed to the confusion. Most recently, an expression of concern published by Injury Prevention and an online statement posted by the CR manufacturer Dorel have understandably raised many questions among CPSTs. The following describes these developments and gives additional context to help CPSTs make sense of recent news.
“The manuscript ‘Car safety seats for children: rear facing for best protection’ was published in Injury Prevention in 2007, after peer review. The paper used U.S. data from the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System to conclude that children 0–23 months were less likely to be severely injured when using a rear-facing car seat than a front-facing car seat. This result, along with similar data from Swedish experience and biomechanical studies, has been used as the basis for public education and policy recommendations that favor a rear-facing position for children under age two in car seats.
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), a nonprofit association that represents the manufacturers of 95 percent of the prenatal and preschool products sold in North America, announced the appointment of Joseph Colella as its new director of child passenger safety. The assignment was effective June 1.
“Joe has been a friend of JPMA and the juvenile products industry for many years. Many of our members are car seat manufacturers, and they, along with JPMA, are thrilled to be able to formalize our relationship with him,” said JPMA Executive Director Kelly Mariotti.
Longtime SRN Publications office director, Nancy Beaumont, has retired as of June 1, 2017. After several years freelancing for SRN, Nancy was hired to run the Safe Ride News office by then-owner Deborah Stewart in 1999. Over time, Nancy managed other part-time employees, notably Steven and Sally, whose positions have been eliminated along with the closure of the Edmonds office.
Although many of today’s CPSTs may not know the name Annmarie Shelness, we all owe her an enormous debt of gratitude. She was among the very first to recognize and take action to address the unacceptable risks to children on America’s roadways—efforts that spurred the field of child passenger safety. In addition to publishing landmark scholarly papers, lobbying Congress, and serving on technical committees at the highest level, Annemarie Shelness was committed to educating caregivers. She generously gave her time to nurture other advocates, many of whom are leaders in our field today.
Sure, most CPSTs recall a childhood in which CRs were not routinely used, and many worked in the field before the formality of a certification program. Nonetheless, it can be eye-opening to reflect on a time—less than 45 years ago—when child passenger safety was a fledgling concept taken up by just a handful of concerned citizens.
CPSTs know that children on aircraft are better protected from injury when riding in an approved CR due to the potential of turbulence or crashes. Recently, a new study identified an additional reason: in-flight medical emergencies. In particular, the researchers (three doctors from U.S. universities and hospitals) looked at the in-flight injuries (IFIs, typically trauma or burns) that children sustained. They found such incidents to be infrequent relative to the number of such events to all passengers, but not negligible. Their takeaway: The protection CRs can provide with respect to potential IFIs can expand their in-flight benefits beyond during takeoff, landing, and turbulence.
Small babies and those with special needs due to prematurity or other medical conditions will not fit well in all car seats sold for newborns. Selection must consider both proper harness fit and the manufacturer’s lowest weight limit rating.