According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using a car seat correctly can reduce the risk of death for children:
- Ages four through eight, by 45 percent.
- Ages one through four, by 54 percent.
- Infants under one year old, by 71 percent.
It is possible that changes regarding the use of car seats sought by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics might even further reduce the risk of dying in a car accident for those between the ages of one and four. These groups recommend that children remain in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 2, at least. If the child’s height and weight fit the seat’s parameters, even longer.
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The reason for the recommendation has to do with the way in which the spine of a child that age responds to the force of a crash. Because at that age it is still mostly cartilage, it is more susceptible to stretching and tearing which could lead to devastating injuries. When the seat faces backward, their head and neck are better supported should the vehicle, in which they are an occupant, be involved in a crash.
One car seat maker recently announced its intention to change the time frame in which the seat can be changed to forward facing.
There is no question that most parents want to do what is best for their children. Keeping their car seat facing backward as long as possible may be one of those things.
Source: Babble, “Car Seat Company Ups Forward-Facing Age Requirement – Here’s Why It’s a Big Deal,” Katie Loeb, Sept. 8, 2014