Minority children use appropriate car seats less often

Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:29pm EST
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By Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many kids are not put in car seats and booster seats as recommended, studies have shown. A new report suggests use may be particularly low among non-white children.

"We expected that differences in family income, parental education, and sources of information would explain the racial disparities in age-appropriate restraint use and they did not," lead author Dr. Michelle L. Macy told Reuters Health by email.

Certain parents may face barriers to car seat and booster seat use that researchers haven't discovered yet, Macy, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said. Or social norms could explain the differences between racial groups.

The new study took place in Michigan, where state law requires that children under four use a car seat and kids four to seven use a car seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches.

Experts generally recommend older kids under that height keep using a booster seat as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says all kids under 13 should ride only in the back seat.

The new study was based on surveys of 600 parents of kids ages one to 12.

Close to 3 percent of kids under age four ever sat in the front seat, compared to 10 percent of kids ages four to seven and 34 percent of kids ages eight to 12, according to findings published in Pediatrics.

Among four- to seven-year-olds, twice as many non-white kids sat in the front seat as white kids. For the other age groups, there was no difference based on race.   Continued...