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AAP to Parents: Keep Young Kids in Rear-Facing Seats Longer

In the realm of deadly car accidents involving infants, the last word would seemingly end with Sweden: The country requires that children sit in the back seats of vehicles in age-appropriate seats that face the rear, with the result that it has the lowest motor vehicle fatality rate in the world involving accidents with kids under the age of six.

Still, many American parents resist the urge, for a host of reasons, although things might now change following the strong recommendation just issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”).

In a new policy statement, the AAP says that the time-honored practice among many American parents to switch their kids from rear-facing to front-facing seats upon or shortly after their first birthday should be absolutely shunned. The AAP recommends stalling that urge for at least another year.

The reason is simple, says Dr. Dennis R. Durbin, the lead author of the AAP study: An infant’s head is comparatively large and not well controlled, and is less protected in a crash where it flies forward without restraint.

That describes an accident in which the infant is facing forward. If he or she is in a rear-facing seat, the entire body is supported much better in a collision.

Numerous medical and safety authorities say that it’s not even a close call. The AAP study results indicate that children under two are 75 percent less likely to die or suffer serious injury in an accident if they are in a seat that faces the rear.

Related Resource: “Rear-Facing Car Seats Advised at Least to Age of 2” March 21, 2011