The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued separate but consistent new recommendations Monday about car seats. Both organizations say older children who've outgrown front-facing car seats should ride in booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits them. Booster seats help position adult seat belts properly on children's smaller frames. Children usually can graduate from a booster seat when their height reaches 4 feet 9 inches. Children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat, the guidelines from both groups say.But it's based on evidence from crashes. For older children, poorly fitting seat belts can cause abdominal and spine injuries in a crash.
Also, toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats longer, until they are 2 years old instead of 1. One-year-olds are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if they are in a rear-facing car seat than a forward-facing seat, according to a 2007 analysis of five years of U.S. crash data. Toddlers have relatively large heads and small necks. In a front-facing car seat, the force of a crash can jerk the child's head causing spinal cord injuries.
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