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Posts Tagged ‘rear facing’

don’t believe me? then read information here:

http://www.kyledavidmiller.org/pages/4209/Car_Seat_Safety:_Rear-facing_is_safest.htm

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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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.

References:
(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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