According to the new study almost one fourth of parents fail to follow the safety advice to use rear-facing car seats for their toddlers until age 2. Instead of that, most parents turn their child's car seat around, to a front-facing position, at a premature age than recommended, and one third of parents even turn the seats around before their child reaches 1 year old.
"There are lots of reasons why parents are eager to change from the rear-facing to forward-facing seat," study co-author Dr. Michelle Macy, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, said in a statement. For example, parents always think that their children are too large for their rear-facing seats, or parents may prefer seeing their children when driving, Macy said.
Delays can make:
"But delaying the switch can make a big difference. In Sweden, it is culturally accepted that children up to age 4 are in rear-facing seats, and child traffic fatalities [in that country] are among the lowest in the world," Macy said.
U.S. guidelines preferred keeping children in a rear-facing seat until age 1, but in March 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed the recommendation, saying that it is safer for children to remain in a rear-facing seat until age 2, or until children have outgrown the weight or height limits of their rear-facing seat.
According to the new study, the researchers found that in 2016, 24 per cent of parents said they had turned their babies to face forward before the child was 1 year old. Only 23 per cent reported waiting until the child was 2 to turn the seat around to the front-facing position.
Although the new data did show any trend of improvement among parents, the researchers said. In 2016, 33 per cent of parents said they had turned their toddlers to face forward before the kids were 1 year old, and just 16 per cent reported waiting until the child reached 2.
Still today, more children will be safer if more parents will follow the simple guidelines. Car accidents remain a main cause of death among children, and that is partly because many child passengers are not properly restrained, the researchers said.