A new study found that infants are exposed to risk as soon as their parents drive them home from the hospital due to an incorrect position or installation of car seats.
Researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital observed 267 families and observed if the parents unintentionally placed their newborns at risk based on the child safety guidelines defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The team found that 93 percent of the participants did at least one critical error in positioning and installation of the car seat.
Study author and professor of pediatrics Benjamin Hoffman worked with his colleagues observed how the new mothers install the car safety seat and how they positioned their newborns into the seat on their way home. The researchers recorded all the errors observed based on the manufacturer recommendation for the installation and use of car safety seats.
The researchers found the following positioning errors: 69 percent had harnesses that are too loose, 34 percent had the retainer clip positioned too low, while 20 percent used a product that is not compatible with the car safety seat. About 18 percent of the participants adjusted the harness too high while 15 percent do not know how to secure the harness..
Meanwhile, 43 percent of the installation errors included an unfastened car safety seat and 36 percent had the car seat installed at an incorrect angle, while 23 percent had an unlocked safety belt. Spacing is also a problem, as 17 percent allotted incorrect space between the car front seat and car safety seat.
"Car safety seats can be difficult to use correctly for many families, and we need to provide the resources and services they need to help ensure the safest possible travel for newborns and all children," Hoffmann explained.
The results of the study will be presented on Oct. 13 at the the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition in San Diego.