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Car Seats Can Be Dangerous When Used Outside of Car

Infant rolling out of seat, seat falling from a height are common causes of car seat-related injuries

TUESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Infants can be seriously injured when they are in an infant car seat being used outside of the car, and parents may not be aware of the danger, according to research published online July 5 in Pediatrics.

Shital N. Parikh, M.D., and Lindsay Wilson, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, accessed the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to determine the rate of emergency department-treated injuries to children under the age of 1 year associated with use of car seats outside of the car. The type and circumstances of the injury, as well as demographic information, was obtained.

Based on a weighted sample of 1,898 infants, the researchers estimated that 43,562 car seat-related injuries were treated at emergency departments nationwide from 2003 to 2007. They determined that the injured infants' average age was 4.07 months, 62.4 percent of the injuries were in infants younger than 4 months, and 54.4 percent of the injuries were in boys. In addition, 49.1 percent of the injuries happened at home. The most common injury described was a head injury (84.3 percent), and a total of 8.4 percent of infants required hospitalization. The most common mechanisms of injury were the infant falling from the car seat, the car seat itself falling from a height, and the car seat overturning when placed on a soft surface.

"The high rate of car seats falling from elevated surfaces indicates that parents consider this to be a safe practice. In a prospective study, only one of 13 caregivers was aware that there was a chance of injury to their infant caused by the fall of a car seat or bouncy chair when placed on an elevated surface," the authors write.

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