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Effects of seating position and appropriate restraint use on the risk of injury to children in motor vehicle crashes

Background. Currently, many states are upgrading their child restraint laws to include provisions for the use of age-appropriate restraints through 6 to 8 years of age, with some also requiring rear seating for children, enabling the laws to be in closer alignment with best-practice recommendations. Objective. To evaluate the relationships of seating position and restraint status to the risk of injury among children in passenger vehicle crashes. Methods. This was a cross-sectional study of children 3 times the risk (OR: 3.2; 95% CI: 2.5-4.1). The effect of seating row was smaller than the effect of restraint status; children in the front seat were at 40% greater risk of injury, compared with children in the rear seat (OR: 1.4; 95% CI: 1.2-1.7). Had all children in the study population been appropriately restrained in the rear seat, 1014 serious injuries (95% CI: 675-1353 injuries) would have been prevented (with the assumption that restraint effectiveness does not depend on a variety of other driver-related, child-related, crash-related, vehicle-related, and environmental factors). Conclusions. Age-appropriate restraint confers relatively more safety benefit than rear seating, but the 2 work synergistically to provide the best protection for children in crashes. These results support the current focus on age-appropriate restraint in recently upgraded state child restraint laws. However, it is important to note that considerable added benefit would be realized with additional requirements for rear seating. Pediatrics 2005;115:e305-e309. URL: 10.1542/peds.2004-1522; child restraint, seating position, injury, motor vehicle accidents.