Published: Sat, September 01, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Pediatricians drop age limit for rear-facing auto seats

Pediatricians drop age limit for rear-facing auto seats

Per the old safety standards, children were to sit in rear-facing auto seats until age 2, after which they'd switch to seats that face forward.

Unlike with rear-facing seats, in forward-facing seats, a toddler's head - which is "disproportionately large and heavy" - is thrown forward in a crash, which could lead towards spine and head injuries.

The AAP chose to update their vehicle seat policy after re-analyzing a 2017 study that originally recommended the age limit at two years old.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should remain rear-facing in their auto seat for as long as possible, even past their 2nd birthday. In the press release, he explained that there's not enough data to determine the exact age to transition a child to a forward-facing seat and that keeping your child rear-facing "as long as possible is the best way to keep them safe".

Children can typically use standard lap and shoulder seat belts safely when they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall, or around eight to 12 years old.

Hoffman told NBC News that in the previous year there has been "significant change in what we know about the relative protection of auto seats".

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Earlier this year one mom, Sarah Sutton, told Motherly how glad she was that she kept her older kids, ages 6 and 5, in their forward-facing auto seats even after they started complaining about them. Most convertible auto seats have a weight limit of between 35 and 50 pounds, so kids can be pretty old before they turn around.

Once kids outgrow a rear-facing seat, they should use a forward-facing safety seat with a harness until they reach its height and weight limits.

Natasha Young is mother to five-month-old Soleil, but she's also a certified technician for Safe Kids Worldwide and teaches other parents how to properly install a vehicle seat. Many seats can hold kids up to 65 pounds or more. The new findings are based on child size rather than age.

The organization says using the correct auto safety seat or booster seat can help decrease a child's risk of death or serious injury by over 70 percent.

In the last decade, there have been significant reductions in the number of children killed in auto accidents, but such incidences remain to be the top cause of death in children below 4 years old. "Over the last 10 years, 4 children under 14 and younger died each day", Hoffman wrote.

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