SAN DIEGO — Ninety-three percent of parents with newborns critically misused car safety seats, according to data presented at the 2014 AAP National Conference and Exhibition.
Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland, Ore., asked recent mothers to install a car safety seat in their vehicle and to position their newborn child in the seat under the supervision of a certified child passenger safety technician before leaving the hospital. Study enrollment is ongoing, according to researchers, and 267 mother-infant pairs have participated to date. Study participants were aged 30 to 39 years.
“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,” researcher Benjamin Hoffman, MD, FAAP, said in a press release.
Ninety-three percent of caregivers made at least one critical error in positioning their child in a car safety seat or installing the seat in their vehicle. Overall, there was an average of 4.2 errors per family.
Sixty-eight percent made a harness error, 33% positioned the retainer clip too low, 20% used an after-market product that was not approved with the seat, 28% used the incorrect harness slot, and 14% did not know how to adjust the harness. There were an average 2.3 positioning errors made per family.
The most common installation errors were installing the seat too loosely (43%), incorrectly angling the seat (36%), forgetting to lock the safety belt (23%), and incorrectly spacing the safety seat behind the vehicle’s front seat (17%). There were an average of 1.9 installation errors per family.
Risk factors for improperly positioning or installing a car safety seat included lower socioeconomic status, less education, nonwhite race, non-English speaking, unmarried or without a partner.
Families who worked with a certified car safety seat technician were 13 times more likely to position their child correctly and install the seat correctly.
“If you gave a test and 93% of the people failed it, there’s a point where you can’t blame the people who took the test and start thinking there’s some flaw in the test. This is part of what these study findings show us with car safety seats,” Hoffman told Infectious Diseases in Children. “There have been a lot of innovations over the last 10 years from car seat and vehicle manufacturers that have made them less difficult to misuse, but it’s still not easy. We need to build programs within hospitals that deliver newborns to provide resources to those families to ensure they do it right.” — by Amanda Oldt
For more information:
Hoffman B. Abstract #25919. Presented at: 2014 AAP National Conference and Exhibition; Oct. 11-14, 2014; San Diego.
Disclosure: Hoffman reports no relevant financial disclosures.