WEDNESDAY, March 7, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- State booster seat laws may be saving the lives of young children, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that kids aged 4 to 7 are more likely to be properly restrained in car crashes in states that have the booster seat laws in place.
Reporting in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, they analyzed data on 6,102 children in 5,198 vehicles involved in crashes from December 1998 through December 2004.
The data came from the District of Columbia and 16 states in the four regions (East, Midwest, South and West) of the United States. Seven of the states and the District of Columbia have booster seat laws that went into effect during the study. The other nine states had no such laws.
"Between the first six months of 1999 and the last six months of 2004, appropriate restraint use increased from 21.5 percent to 74.8 percent for children aged 4 to 5 years and from 3 percent to 22.9 percent for children aged 6 to 7 years," the study authors wrote.
Children in states with booster seat laws were 39 percent more likely to be appropriately restrained in crashes than youngsters in states with no booster seat laws.
The study authors noted that 350 children aged 4 to 7 were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2004 and that booster seats are an inexpensive, easy-to-use and effective way of protecting children.
"Our data suggests that booster seat provisions for children aged 4 through 7 years will have some effect on all children in this age range," the researchers concluded. "Given the current greater use of appropriate restraints for 4- to 5-year-olds compared with older children, future upgrades to child restraint laws should target all children through at least age 7 years to achieve the greatest effect on overall child restraint use."
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more about booster seats.