In 2014, the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) studied how germ types and levels in cars compared to those in people’s homes. While they found plenty of germs in people’s vehicles, it was in car seats that the results really stood out. Researchers found that, on average, every square centimeter of a car seat contained at least 100 bacteria and fungi—twice as many as on a toilet seat.
Naturally, this report was widely circulated in the media that year, and people were understandably grossed out. It is certainly a reminder for CPSTs to stock their tool kit with hand sanitizer and use it routinely while working in cars.
Update on Latest Developments As of mid-November 2017
Articles in the last issue of SRN (July/August 2017) covered the major CPS news story that a key, real-life study on the benefits of riding rear facing up to age 2 had been discredited and the status of updated research that will potentially replace it. Since the journal Injury Prevention issued an Expression of Concern about the 2007 Henary, et al, study—essentially voiding its validity—the CPS community has eagerly awaited a valid study that will replace it in order to guide future policy.
At press time, at least two studies have been completed to reanalyze this data. Neither, however, has completed the peer-review and publication process that is necessary before any scientific research can be relied upon. Therefore, this is an ongoing and evolving situation; this article aims to summarize new developments since the last SRN issue went to press in late August.
Every community could do more to promote the use of tethers. The following observations are offered as suggestions to help CPSTs get the brainstorming started.
Consistently include tethering when describing the transition from rear to forward facing. I appreciated the National Transportation Safety Board’s CPS Week blog post, which said “When children outgrow a rear-facing car seat, they should use a forward-facing car seat with an internal harness and tether.” This promotes the tether as part of the transition process and keeps it from being linked only to the LATCH system. On the word “tether,” the NTSB even provided a hot link to the SKBU tether report.
In the September/October issue of Harvard Business Review, car seats were recognized among 15 movements of the past century that made significant improvements to society. The article, “Audacious Philanthropy: Lessons from 15 World-Changing Initiatives,” highlighted these top initiatives to help philanthropists identify common behaviors and characteristics that form the framework of movements that successfully create real social change. CPSTs working to update state laws might also find this article to be helpful in promoting bills.
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.
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 following is reprinted from Injury Prevention online, July 3, 2017
“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.