New car-seat safety recommendations made

March 23, 2011 5:30:07 AM PDT
New guidelines were released Monday on how parents of young children should use car seats.

The recommendations come from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

They are recommendations at this point, however, and not the law.

But lawmakers tend to look to the American Academy of Pediatrics standards, so it could be just a matter of time.

Either way, the academy wants to keep kids in car seats to help prevent serious injury or death in a crash.

Check the new recommendations and see if your child's seat is correct at

Jeff Siena says he takes safety seriously with his 4-month-old twin boys.

He got the car seats checked out and makes sure the kids are properly belted in.

If that means keeping them facing the rear until they are 2 years old, then that's what he plans to do, even if it's a hassle.

"When we're in the front seat, it's hard to look back and see who is fussy, who dropped his pacifier, so we'd prefer to have them facing forward, but just for safety sake," Siena said.

Until now, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended having children facing to the rear in car seats up until the age of one.

Research and evidence now suggests they are safer until age 2 facing the rear.

The reason, they say, is because young children tend to have large heads and poorly developed neck muscles, so crashes can cause severe spinal injuries.

"They're much less likely to have a serious or fatal injury if they're rear-ward facing until at least age 2," said Dr. Garry Gardner, American Academy of Pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is also suggesting that older children continue to use booster seats until they are 4-feet-9-inches tall.

The current Illinois law calls for them to remain in booster seats until they are 8 years old.

The academy says, however, that booster seats are really designed to help the adult seatbelts fit children better.

State police agree.

"Among traffic crash fatalities, the single biggest factor that can reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways is occupant restraint," said Illinois State Police Sgt. Juan Valenzuela.

According to a study in 2007, 1-year-olds are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if they are facing the rear in their car seat than if they are in a forward-facing seat.

As for older kids, they say poorly fitting seatbelts without a booster seat can cause abdominal and spinal injuries in a crash.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations appear Monday in the journal "Pediatrics."

For more information, check out:

American Academy of Pediatrics:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: