- All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat (CSS) until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
- All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their CSS, should use a forward-facing CSS with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
- All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their CSS should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
- When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap-and-shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.
- All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
An algorithm to guide the implementation of best-practice recommendations for optimal child passenger safety is provided in the Policy Statement (see the "Availability of Companion Documents" field).
Motor vehicle-related injuries
- To provide a summary of the evidence in support of 5 recommendations for best practices to optimize safety in passenger vehicles for children from birth through adolescence that all pediatricians should know and promote in their routine practice
- To provide pediatricians with a number of resources for additional information to use when providing anticipatory guidance to families
Children from birth through adolescence and their families
- Age appropriate use and installation of child restraints
- Rear-facing child safety seat (CSS)
- Forward-facing CSS
- Belt-positioning booster seats
- Lap-and-shoulder seat belts
- Exposure to air bags
- Special considerations
- Safety of children left in or around vehicles
- Safety of children in pick-up trucks
- Safety of children on commercial airlines
- Motor vehicle traffic-related injuries and fatalities
- Reported use of child restraint systems
- Effectiveness of car safety seats
Searches of Electronic Databases
A search was performed in May 2009 using Medline via the OVID Database. The search included articles from all available years, with the exception of 3 search terms for which results were limited to the past 10 years. Results were limited to articles in English only, published in peer-reviewed journals. Search terms included the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Motor vehicle crashes
- Child passenger safety
- Booster seats
- Child safety seats
- Car seats
- Racial disparities (cross-referenced with other terms)
- Seat belt syndrome*
- Seat belts and children*
- Children and air bags*
- Children, safety, and airplanes
- Child restraint laws
*Results limited to the past 10 years.
A formal cost analysis was not performed and published cost analyses were not reviewed.
The type of evidence supporting the recommendations is not specifically stated.
Optimal safety in passenger vehicles for all children, from birth through adolescence
The guidance in this report does not indicate an exclusive course of treatment or serve as a standard of medical care. Variations, taking into account individual circumstances, may be appropriate.
Pediatricians play a critical role in promoting child passenger safety. To facilitate their widespread implementation in practice, evidence-based recommendations for optimal protection of children of all ages in passenger vehicles are presented in the form of an algorithm (Fig 1 in the Policy Statement [see the "Availability of Companion Documents" field]) with an accompanying table of explanations and definitions.
Because pediatricians are a trusted source of information to parents, every pediatrician must maintain a basic level of knowledge of these best-practice recommendations and promote and document them at every health-supervision visit. Prevention of motor vehicle crash injury is unique in health-supervision topics, because it is the only topic recommended at every health-supervision visit by Bright Futures. Pediatricians can also use this information to promote child passenger safety public education, legislation, and regulation at local, state, and national levels through a variety of advocacy activities, including ensuring that their state's child passenger safety law is in better alignment with the best-practice recommendations promoted in this policy statement. Because motor vehicle safety for children is multifaceted and will continue to evolve, all pediatricians should familiarize themselves with additional resources to address unique situations for their patients that may not be covered by the algorithm and to maintain current knowledge. In particular, many communities have child passenger safety technicians who have completed a standardized National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) course and who can provide hands-on advice and guidance to families. In most communities, child passenger safety technicians work at formal inspection stations; a list of these stations is available at www.seatcheck.org . If your community does not have an inspection station, you can find a child passenger safety technician in your area on the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Web site (http://cert.safekids.org ) or the NHTSA child safety seat inspection station locator (www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm ). Car seat checkup events are updated at www.safekidsweb.org/events/events.asp . In addition, additional resources for pediatricians and families can be found at www.aap.org or www.healthychildren.org .
|Durbin DR, Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. Child passenger safety. Pediatrics. 2011 Apr;127(4):e1050-66. [131 references] PubMed|
Not applicable: The guideline was not adapted from another source.
American Academy of Pediatrics - Medical Specialty Society
American Academy of Pediatrics
Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention
Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, 2008-2010: H. Garry Gardner, MD, Chairperson; Carl R. Baum, MD; M. Denise Dowd, MD, MPH; Dennis R. Durbin, MD, MSCE, Lead Author; Beth E. Ebel, MD; Michele Burns Ewald, MD; Richard Lichenstein, MD; Mary Ann P. Limbos, MD; Joseph O'Neil, MD, MPH; Elizabeth C. Powell, MD; Kyran P. Quinlan, MD, MPH; Seth J. Scholer, MD, MPH; Robert D. Sege, MD, PhD; Michael S. Turner, MD; Jeffrey Weiss, MD
Contributor: Stuart Weinberg, MD – Partnership for Policy Implementation (PPI)
Liaisons: Julie Gilchrist, MD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Lynne Janecek Haverkos, MD, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Jonathan D. Midgett, PhD, Consumer Product Safety Commission; Alexander S. Sinclair, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Natalie L. Yanchar, MD, Canadian Paediatric Society
Staff: Bonnie Kozial
All authors have filed conflict of interest statements with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Any conflicts have been resolved through a process approved by the Board of Directors. The American Academy of Pediatrics has neither solicited nor accepted any commercial involvement in the development of the content of this publication.
This is the current release of the guideline.
All policy statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics automatically expire 5 years after publication unless reaffirmed, revised, or retired at or before that time.
Electronic copies: Available from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Policy Web site .
Print copies: Available from American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Point Blvd., P.O. Box 927, Elk Grove Village, IL 60009-0927.
The following is available:
- Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, Durbin DR. Policy statement. Child passenger safety. Pediatrics. 2011 Apr; 127(4):788-93. Epub 2011 Mar 21. Electronic copies: Available from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Policy Web site .
The following is available:
- Car safety seats: a guide for families. 2011 safety information. Electronic copies: Available from the American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children Web site .
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