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Improper Use of Booster Seats Puts Many Kids at Risk

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

About two-thirds of children’s booster car seats may be improperly installed or are being misused new analysis shows.

Researchers looked at 564 children using booster seats at fast-food restaurants and discount stores in Indiana. They found common mistakes like shoulder seat belts being too slack or misplacement of the shoulder restraint under the child’s arm, behind their back or over an arm rest.

“Our findings clearly show that booster seats are not protecting children because of user error. Parents need to know how to safely black a child in a booster, supervise the buckling up of children who put themselves in the seat, and double check that the shoulder and lap belts restraining the children remain properly positioned during the drive,” study first author Dr. Joseph O’Neil, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine said in a news release issued by the university.

The findings appear in the May 2009 issue of Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Most states now require the use of booster seats for children riding in cars and trucks once they outgrow a standard five-point harness car seat. The purpose of the booster seat is to raise the height of a seated child so that an adult-sized shoulder restraint fits properly.

O’Neil said, ideally, older children should use a booster seat until they reach a height where their knees extend over the seat at a 90-degree angle and their feet touch the floor while firmly sitting against the car or truck seat. Because of the danger of front-end collision and the powerful force of airbags, O’Neil also pointed out that all children younger than 13 years of age should only use the back seat.

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One Response to “Improper Use of Booster Seats Puts Many Kids at Risk”

  1. Karen Brown says:

    Our son and his wife use a booster seat without a back for our four year old grandson. The adaptor piece which keeps the adult seat belt away from crossing the little boy’s neck is missing and the booster seat is not anchored in any way. We have spoken to our son about this and explained that in an accident the adult seat belt could severely injure or even break the childk’s neck. Our son, a well educated individual and his wife a grade school teacher feel this is not an issue. As grandparents we are very concerned but are no longer up on the proper safety of car booster seats. They used proper car seats up until recently and use the proper car seat for his little sister.

    Thank you,
    Karen Brown

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