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Poor Safety Ratings For Some Booster Seats

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

More than a dozen car booster seats do a poor job of positioning children to fit in their seat belts according to a new review by the Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

IIHS president Adrian Lund said the 13 boosters given a poor rating “may increase restraint use by making children more comfortable, but they don’t position belts for optimal protection.” Child seat manufacturers said their products meet and exceed federal regulations. Two of the seats on the list have been discontinued since the evaluation was done.

This is the first time the institute issued evaluations for booster seats. The group said it chose not to review crash protection because the seats simply elevate children so lap and shoulder belts are well-positioned to restrain them. Typically, booster seats are used by children between the ages of four and eight. The seat belt should be routed across a child’s lower hip and mid-shoulders instead of the abdomen because the liver and spleen are more vulnerable to injuries.

Ten seats were named “best bets,” meaning they were most likely to correctly position seat belts.

Parents should not interpret the evaluations to mean that poorly rated booster seats are not effective says Dr. Kristy Arbogast, a researcher of child passenger safety issues at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The biggest disservice this would do is to encourage people to move out of booster seats because we know they’re an effective restraint, we know they reduce the risk of injury and the risk of fatality.” Arbogast suggested parents buying a new booster seat should try it out in their car and see how the seat belt fits on their child.

Government recommendations calls for car seats for children up to 40 pounds and booster seats for children over 40 pounds until they are eight years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall. The government also recommends that all children ride in the back seat until age 13.

More Information: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

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