ORLEANS – State laws that mandate car booster seat use for children at least
until age 8 are associated with fewer
motor vehicle-related fatalities and severe injuries, and should be
standardized throughout the U.S. to optimally protect children, according to
new research presented Oct. 22 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
AAP recommends that children be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat
until the child reaches 4 feet, 9 inches in height, sometime between the ages
of 8 and 12. While many states have booster seat laws that mirror these
requirements, some states have varying standards for how long a child should
remain in the booster seat. For example, some states only require booster seat
use until the age of 6 or 7.
“Booster Seat Laws Reduce Motor Vehicle Fatalities and Injury,” researchers
reviewed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System between January 1999
and December 2009, comparing fatality and incapacitating injury rates in states
before and after booster seat legislation.
were 9,848 fatalities and incapacitating injuries in children ages 4 to 8 over
the 10-year period. The study found a decreased rate (20 percent) of
death/incapacitating injuries for children 4-6 years old in states with booster
seat laws compared to states without booster seat laws, and an even higher
reduction (33 percent) in the 7- to 8-years-old age bracket. Children ages 4 to
6 with no or improper restraint were twice as likely to suffer death or an
incapacitating injury, and 7- to 8-year-olds were four times as likely compared
to those child properly restrained in a booster seat.
addition, children ages 4 to 6 with only a lap/shoulder belt (no booster seat)
had a 20 percent increased odds of death or an incapacitating injury, compared
to children properly restrained in a booster seat. The odds ratio was even more
pronounced among 7- to 8-year-olds: a 70 percent increased risk of death or
incapacitating injury for children wearing only a lap/shoulder belt.
states have booster seat laws. However, there are different requirements for
how long the child should remain in the booster seat,” said Lois K. Lee, MD,
FAAP, the senior author of the abstract. “Our analysis supports the fact that
booster seat laws should follow AAP standards to optimally protect children
when they are riding in a motor vehicle.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical
specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants,
children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.