Car Booster Seats Cut Injury Risk for Kids

Study Shows Kids in Side-Impact Car Crashes Benefit the Most From Booster Seats

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 19, 2009
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 19, 2009 -- Booster seats with proper belt positioning significantly reduce the risk of injury in children aged 4 to 8 who are involved in traffic accidents, a new study shows.

The research reinforces previous studies that booster seats are important in preventing injuries and saving lives. It is published in the Oct. 19 issue of Pediatrics.

For the study, data were collected on 7,151 children involved in 6,591 car crashes in 15 states and Washington, D.C., between Dec. 1, 1998, and Nov. 30, 2007.

Among the findings:

  • Children in belt-positioning booster seats were 45% less likely to sustain injuries than same-age kids in standard vehicle seats.
  • Booster seats with and without backs provided similar risk for injury.
  • Pediatricians should continue to recommend belt-positioning booster seats for youngsters who have outgrown a harness-based child-seat restraint until they are at least 8 years old, or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
  • Laws should cover children through age 8 because research has linked passage of such statutes with an increase of nearly 40% in usage of protective restraints for children.
  • Children in side impact crashes benefited most from booster seats, showing a reduction in injury risk of 68% for near-side impacts and 82% for far-side.
  • Head injuries were the most prevalent among all hurt children, regardless of restraint type system. They accounted for 65% of injuries.
  • Face and lower extremity injuries were the next most common of kids in booster seats, at 9% and 8% respectively. For injured children in seat belts, abdominal injuries and face injuries were the next most common (12% and 9%).

The lead author of the study was Kristy Arbogast, PhD, of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.