State Booster-Seat Laws Help Protect Young Children

Study finds that kids in states with such laws are more likely to be properly restrained

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- In states with booster-seat laws, children aged 4 to 7 are more likely to be properly restrained during motor vehicle crashes than in states without such laws, researchers report in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Flaura K. Winston, M.D., Ph.D., of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues collected 1998-2004 data. They looked at a probability sample of 5,198 vehicles involved in crashes in 16 states and the District of Columbia that involved 6,102 children.

The researchers found that children aged 4 to 7 who lived in states with booster-seat laws were 39 percent more likely to be properly restrained during crashes than were children in other states. Between 1999 and 2004, they also found that appropriate restraint use among children aged 4 to 5 increased from 21.5 percent to 74.8 percent and that such use among children aged 6 to 7 increased from 3 percent to 22.9 percent.

"Our data suggest that booster seat provisions for children aged 4 through 7 years will have some effect on all children in this age range," the authors conclude. "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."

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