Archive for the ‘car seat safety’ Category

Ok, here we go again. This is the second Britax car seat I have had to replace this year. The first was in an accident when Ethan’s father’s car was totaled. Yesterday, a car hit Matt’s BMW in a parking lot, rendering our BRAND NEW BRITAX BOULEVARD unsafe for use.

So…after getting off the phone with the insurance company WITHOUT ONE WORD FROM THEM ABOUT OUR CAR SEAT, I have realized that most people do not know that car seats MUST be replaced in cases of accidents, even accidents that most people would refer to as “minor”. Actually, most car seat manufacturers recommend replacement of car seats after ANY accident. Britax, however, follows the NHSTA guidelines for what constitutes a “severe” accident warranting replacement of a car seat.

As you can see below, NHTSA does NOT consider our accident to be “minor”. The criteria for a “minor” accident are the following:

  • Minor crashes are those that meet ALL of the following criteria:
    • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
    • The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
    • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
    • The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
    • There is no visible damage to the safety seat

Both my door and Ethan’s door (which was behind me) were hit. 😦

Here is what NHTSA says (from http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/ChildRestraints/ReUse/RestraintReUse.htm)

NHTSA Logo - This page is 508 compliant

Child Restraint Re-use After Minor Crashes

NHTSA Position

  • NHTSA recommends that child safety seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.
  • NHTSA recommends that child safety seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash.
  • Minor crashes are those that meet ALL of the following criteria:
    • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
    • The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
    • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
    • The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
    • There is no visible damage to the safety seat
  • Clarifying the need for child seat replacement will reduce the number of children unnecessarily riding without a child safety seat while a replacement seat is being acquired, and the number of children who will have to ride without a child seat if a seat were discarded and not replaced. The clarification will also reduce the financial burden of unnecessary replacement.


  • Recent studies demonstrate that child safety seats can withstand minor crash impacts without any documented degradation in subsequent performance.
  • The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ( ICBC ) subjected nine new and used child seats restraining 3-year-old dummies to a series of 50 consecutive 15 km/h sled tests into a 40% offset barrier. Three seats were inspected visually; no damage was apparent as a result of the impacts. Three seats underwent x-ray inspection; no damage was detected. Three seats were tested in accordance with Canadian federal standards (CMVSS 213) and were found to be in compliance with all standards.
  • ICBC performed four vehicle crash tests at 48 and 64 km/h, with two child seats restraining 3-year-old dummies in each vehicle. Each seat was subjected to multiple impacts and visually inspected. Defects were noted and the seats were re-tested. Seats always performed as well in subsequent tests as they did in the first test.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) performed 30 mph vehicle crash tests with dummies from six months to three years in a variety of child restraint systems (CRSs). Most seats sustained minor damage (e.g., frayed webbing, small cracks in the hard plastic shell, strain-whitening on the plastic shell or chest clip) but all dummies remained well secured by the restraints. Four of the damaged seats were subjected to three additional 30 mph crash tests. Although additional minor damage was observed in subsequent tests, the seats met all federal standards.
  • The agency searched for, but was unable to find any cases in which a child safety seats were damaged in a minor crash (as defined in NHTSA Position).


The agency is committed to maintaining policies that are science-based and data-driven. Stakeholders with data that address post crash re-use of child safety seats are encouraged to provide this information to the agency.


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By Peggy Peck, Managing Editor, MedPage Today
Published: July 19, 2007
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Michael Anderson, M.D.
Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland
MONTREAL, July 19 — Newborns placed in a sitting position — in car seats, baby carriers, or infant seats, for example — may have an increased risk of sudden infant death, researchers reported here.

Action Points
Explain to interested patients that car safety seats are still recommended for use with all infants.

Explain to interested patients that pediatricians can conduct a car seat challenge for premature infants or infants with upper airway obstruction to confirm the safety of placement in a car seat.
A review of 508 deaths of infants younger than one year found that 17 deaths occurred when infants were in “sitting devices” and 10 of those deaths were unexplained, according to Aurore Côté, M.D., of McGill University Health Center, and colleagues, in a study published online by Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The authors said the greatest risk was for infants younger than one month, noting that six of the 64 infants who died within a month of birth (9.4%), were in the “seat group, whereas only 11 of the 444 infants older than one month (2.4%) were in the seat group, which represents an RR of 3.80 for the sitting position and is highly significant (P=0.006).”

When they categorized all deaths as explained or unexplained, 49 unexplained deaths had occurred in infants younger than one month and five of those infants were sitting at time of death, for an RR of 7.35 (P<0.001). “This clearly suggests a much higher risk for the sitting position for infants less than one month of age,” they wrote.

The retrospective cohort study included all cases of unexpected deaths in infants younger than one in Quebec over a 10-year period (January 1991-December 2000).

Overall, deaths while sitting accounted for only 3% of the total deaths during the first year of life and, the authors said, “premature infants do not account for an excess number of deaths in the sitting group.”

Michael Anderson, M.D., a pediatric intensive care specialist at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, cautioned against over interpreting the study findings.

He pointed out that the “numbers are very, very small” and warned that parents should be reassured that car seats remain the safest way to transport infants.

The authors suggest two factors that could explain the excess deaths in newborns — the fact that prolonged apnea, bradycardia, and drops in oxygen levels are most common during the first month of life and decrease thereafter and the length of time that the infant spent sitting, especially babies who had evidence of upper airway obstruction.

They said that five of the infant deaths occurred in babies who had been sitting for several hours and had laryngomalacia or other cranio-facial anomaly.

The authors said that an earlier study found that using an insert that holds an infant’s head in a neutral position during sleep while in car seats reduced the number and severity of episodes of lowered oxygenation.

These inserts are currently recommended for use with premature infants, and are available at stores that sell baby equipment.

Dr. Anderson said that in the United States it is routine practice for pediatricians to conduct at “car seat challenge” before hospital discharge for premature infants or babies with upper airway obstruction.

During a car seat challenge the infant is placed in the car seat and then vital signs are carefully monitored for a time period that would correspond with the time required for the trip between the hospital and the infant’s home.

The authors said their study was limited by the lack of a control group of healthy living infants, but they said that infants for whom a cause of death was found served as a nominal control group.

The study was funded by the Respiratory Health Network of the Fonds de la recherché en santé du Quebec. Drs. Côté and Anderson reported no financial conflicts.

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don’t believe me? then read information here:


children shoudl be rear facing up to the limits of their seats.  In the USA, that means a child can be rear facing up to 35 lbs.  Safe your child’s life in the event of an accident, keep them rear facing. 🙂

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Dont leave your baby in an infant carrier to sleep!

If you are tempted, read these articles:



http://www.parenting.com/Common/phot…yID=1000021358 Reply With Quote

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Common Misunderstanding
There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about the crash environment that lead even the best-intentioned parent or pediatrician to believe a child is “safe” facing forward when s/he is still very young. These come from obsolete ideas and advice that may still appear in older pamphlets and pediatric literature but that have been updated in recent years.

The most prevalent misunderstanding is the idea that muscle strength and control have anything to do with whether it is reasonable to face a child forward and subject his/her neck to the extreme forces pulling the head away from the body in a frontal crash.

Crash Dynamics
This will be a somewhat technical explanation, but it is an important concept to understand. When a car hits something else at, say, 25 miles per hour to 30mph, it will come to a stop at a deceleration rate of about 20 or 25G. But, due to the time lag between when the vehicle stops and the occupants eventually do, the head of a forward-facing adult or child may experience as much as 60 or 70G.

Physiological Impact
Even strong neck muscles of military volunteers cannot make a difference in such an environment. Rather it is the rigidity of the bones in the neck, in combination with the connecting ligaments, that determines whether the spine will hold together and the spinal cord will remain intact within the confines of the vertebral column.

This works for adults, but very young children have immature and incompletely ossified bones that are soft and will deform and/or separate under tension, leaving the spinal cord as the last link between the head and the torso. Have you ever pulled an electric cord from the socket by the cord instead of the plug and broken the wires? Same problem.

This scenario is based on actual physiological measures. According to Huelke et. al. (1), “In autopsy specimens the elastic infantile vertebral bodies and ligaments allow for column elongation of up to two inches, but the spinal cord ruptures if stretched more than 1/4 inch.” Real accident experience has also shown that a young child’s skull can be literally ripped from its spine by the force of a crash. Yes, the body is being held in place, but the head is not. Is it a statistically rare event? Yes. If it’s my child, does it matter that it’s rare?

Facing Directions
When a child is facing rearward, the head is cradled and moves in unison with the body, so that there is little or no relative motion that might pull on the connecting neck.

Another aspect of the facing-direction issue that is often overlooked is the additional benefit a child gains in a side impact. Crash testing and field experience have both shown that the head of a child facing rearward is captured by the child restraint shell in side and frontal-oblique crashes, while that of a forward-facing child is thrown forward, around, and often outside the confines of the side wings. This can make the difference between a serious or fatal head injury and not.

Turn-Around Time
There are no magical or visible signals to tell us, parents or pediatricians when the risk of facing forward in a crash is sufficiently low to warrant the change, and, when a parent drives around for months or years without a serious crash, the positive feedback that the system they have chosen “works” is very difficult to overcome. When in doubt, however, it’s always better to keep the child facing rearward.

In the research and accident review(2) that I did a few years ago, the data seemed to break at about 12 months between severe consequences and more moderate consequences for the admittedly rare events of injury to young children facing forward that we were able to identify. One year old is also a nice benchmark, and the shift to that benchmark in the last few years has kept many kids in a safer environment longer and has probably saved some lives, some kids from paralysis and some parents from terrible grief.

Leg Length
As a side comment, some convertible child restraints indicate in their instructions that a child should face forward when his/her feet touch the vehicle seatback, or alternately when the legs must be bent. This prohibition is not justified by any accident experience or any laboratory evidence, and we are hoping that these instructions will soon be revised. The only physical limit on rear-facing use is when the child’s head approaches the top of the restraint shell. At this point, s/he should be moved to a rear-facing convertible restraint, or, if the child is already using one, to its forward-facing configuration.

Parents and pediatricians need to know the real reasons for the current push to keep babies rear-facing to at least one year of age, in order to be able to make an informed judgment. Perhaps this will help spread the word.

(1) Huelke DF et. al. Car crashes and non-head impact cervical spine injuries in infants and children. Society of Automotive Engineers, Warrendale, Pennsylvania, 1992. SAE 920562

(2) Weber K et. al. Investigation of dummy response and restraint configuration factors associated with upper spinal cord injury in a forward-facing child restraint. In Child Occupant Protection, SP-986. Society of Automotive Engineers, Warrendale, Pennsylvania, 1993. SAE 933101

Kathleen Weber is the Director of the Child Passenger Protection Research Program at the University of Michigan Medical School

visit carseatsafety.org for more info.

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Since we just bought an SUV, car seat safety is a big issue for me. We have never had an SUV before and apparently the 3d row in an SUV is the least safest area. So, I want to make sure we have the safety car seats that money can buy.

For my 10 year old, we are getting a Britax Monarch, which is here: http://www.britaxusa.com/products/product_detail.aspx?ID=6.

Britax is also coming out with the coolest new car seat ever. It is only forward facing, so will only used after Ethan is 35 pounds. However, the seat is rated as a forward facing seat from 25 until 80 lbs. After that, it converts to a booster from 80 until 100 pds.

Right now Ethan is in a Britax Blvd. which rear faces until 35 lbs. (this is a new feature of teh Blvd., just released in Feb. 2008). You can see that seat here: http://www.britaxusa.com/products/product_detail.aspx?ID=1. Of course, he doesn’t have the flowers.

I had intended on getting a Blvd. for the new baby b/c my babies are big, but I think instead I am purchasing the Frontier when it comes out (release date is May 2008) and switching Ethan to the Frontier when he hits 35 lbs. in the Blvd. At that point, I will put the baby into the Blvd. rear facing until 35 lbs. and forward facing until 65 lbs. Mikey will be in the Monarch until he outgrows all seats and then Ethan will transfer to the Monarch and baby will transfer to the Frontier when both are ready weight wise (more than likely, when baby outgrows the Blvd.).

With the purchase of these 2 seats, I will never have to purchase another car seat for my kids. All for only apprximately $400. And I can be assured that they are in the safest seats made. Britax is a great company with True Side Impact Protection and I do feel confident that this provides more protection than those seats that don’t have this feature.

In case you are wondering why I have my children rear facing until 35 lbs. in the Blvds, here is a youtube video to show you why children should NOT be forward facing.

For some reason, people love to put their children forward facing. It is very very dangerous! Please watch this video and visit carseatsafety.org before you do that!

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