Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The current range of child safety and booster seats available accommodate a broad spectrum of body sizes, including children with higher weights, according to a new study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Researchers at the hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention studied nearly 1,000 children, age 1 to 8, involved in crashes and found no evidence of increased injury risk for children across a broad weight range. All of the children included in the study were properly restrained in the correct child safety or booster seats for their height and weight.

“Given that nearly 32 per cent of children in the United States are categorized as overweight or obese, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for all children, we wanted to better understand how these two threats to children’s health interact,” said Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, lead author of the study. “This research should reassure parents that their only concern when it comes to car seat safety should be to follow the most recent guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

The guidelines, revised earlier this year, state that children should remain rear-facing until at least age 2, or until they reach the rear-facing height and weight limit for the car seat. Once forward-facing, children should stay in a five-point harness until they reach the height and weight limits for the seat as indicated by the manufacturer. They should then move to a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4-foot-9, usually between the ages of 8 and 12.

“A good time to re-evaulate child safety seat needs is during your child’s routine medical visits,” Zonfrillo said. “Compare your child’s weight and height measurements to the manufacturer’s acceptable ranges on the seat’s labels or instructions. There’s no one-size-fits-all. If your older child moved to a booster seat at age 5, don’t necessarily assume it will be the same for his or her younger siblings.”

The guidelines can be found at HealthyChildren.

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