AAP Updates Recommendations on Car Seat Use

Panel recommends rear-facing seats until 2 years of age or maximum height and weight

MONDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- In a policy statement and technical report published online March 21 in Pediatrics, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated their recommendations on best practices for the use of car seats and seat belts for children from birth through adolescence.

In the policy statement, Dennis R. Durbin, M.D., of the AAP Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, and colleagues provide five evidence-based recommendations for best practices in the choice of a child restraint system to optimize safety in passenger vehicles for children. The new policy states that parents should keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until 2 years of age, or until they have reached the maximum height and weight for the seat. The committee recommends that parents should keep their children in forward-facing car safety seats through 4 years of age and that most children should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and between 8 and 12 years of age. Lap-and-shoulder seat belts are recommended for all adolescents who have outgrown booster seats, with children younger than 13 years of age recommended to ride in rear seats of vehicles.

In the technical report, Durbin and colleagues provide a summary of the evidence in support of the five recommendations. The committee organized these recommendations into an algorithm, designed to cover the majority of situations that pediatricians may encounter in practice. The report also provides evidence on issues that may affect the safety of children in motor vehicles, including proper use of child restraints, exposure to air bags, travel in pickups, children left in or around vehicles, and the importance of restraint laws.

"The 'age 2' recommendation is not a deadline, but rather a guideline to help parents decide when to make the transition," Durbin said in a statement. "Smaller children will benefit from remaining rear-facing longer, while other children may reach the maximum height or weight before 2 years of age."

Abstract - Policy Statement
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Abstract - Technical Report
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