SUVs No Safer for Children Than Passenger Cars

Study says SUVs' weight advantage is canceled out by their tendency to roll over

THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Despite their heavier weight, sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) don't protect children from injuries any better than passenger cars, primarily because SUVs are more than twice as likely to roll over, according to a study published in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Lauren Daly, M.D., of A.I. Dupont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and colleagues analyzed a probability sample of 3,922 child occupants ages 0-15 years from three large U.S. regions, which represented 72,396 children in crashes of either SUVs or passenger cars (model year 1998 or newer).

The researchers found that the risk of injury was not significantly different for children in SUVs versus passenger cars (adjusted odds ratio 1.50). They did find that the risk of injury was particularly high for improperly restrained versus properly restrained children involved in SUV rollover crashes (OR, 24.99). In both vehicle types, children exposed to a passenger airbag (PAB) were more likely to be injured than were those who were not (OR, 4.70).

"Because of the higher risk of rollover, pediatricians should reinforce strongly the importance of age-appropriate restraint for all children who ride in SUVs," the authors conclude. "Furthermore, the increased risk of injury posed by deploying PABs in either vehicle type reinforces the importance of continued education of parents to never place children under 13 years of age in the front seat of a PAB-equipped vehicle."

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