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Updated booster seat recommendations for kids

January 09, 2013

Does your child use a booster seat in the car? This might be a question to ask yourself if you are a parent of a young child. It has been previously thought that a child could graduate from the booster seat around age 8, but guidelines are now being revised to take into account a child’s height, recognizing that children grow at different rates.

A recent study that was published in an issue of the Pediatrics journal explored the relationship between proper booster seat use and motor vehicle related fatalities among children ages 4 to 7.

In a study of over 3,500 deaths (related to motor vehicle collisions) among children ages 4 to 7, it was shown that state laws requiring booster seats for young children is associated with a decrease in deaths related to car accidents. It is important for parents to become educated on what these booster seat recommendations are, and to implement them, in order to keep kids safe.

The study

Researchers used data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to identify all motor vehicle occupants, ages 4 to 7, who died in vehicle collisions between January 1999 and December 2009. The FARS data includes a report on the safety restraints used by adults and children in each case reported.

They were able to use this data to compare the “before”, the period of time there were no laws set in place, and “after”, the years after in which the booster seat laws were implemented, to determine the impact of booster seat laws on the rate of fatalities.

What they found

At the start of the study in 1999, no states had laws requiring booster seat use. In states that had adopted booster seat laws during the time of the study, researchers found a significant decrease in fatal injuries among children. However, in those states that did not require such laws, fatality rates did not decrease at any point during the study. These results go to further prove that state requirements of booster seat use in young children help to decrease their risk for injury, or death, in car accidents.

The takeaway

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children, who are above the height/weight limit for forward-facing car seats, use a belt-positioning booster seat until the seatbelt fits properly. Typically, a booster seat should be used from the age of 4, until the child is between the age of 8 and 12, and is 4 feet 9 inches in height.

It’s important for parents to become educated and be proactive in implementing these recommendations for the safety of their kids. Even if the booster seat is a hassle, or “uncool” (according to your older child), it is worth saving the life of your child.

For more information on car seat and booster seat recommendations, and proper installation, go here.

Link to the Pediatrics journal study, “Booster Seat Laws and Fatalities in Children ages 4 to 7 Years of Age”