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Effectiveness of Booster Seats Compared With No Restraint or Seat Belt Alone for Crash Injury Prevention | Academic Emergency Medicine

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Oct 10, 2013

The objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of belt-positioning booster seats, compared with no restraint use and with seat belt use only, during motor vehicle crashes among U.S. children.

This was a retrospective matched cohort study with data from the 1998 through 2009 National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) Crashworthiness Data System (CDS). The study sample consisted of children aged 0 to 10 years who were not seated in the front seat of the vehicle. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the risk of overall, fatal, and regional body injury.

Children using seat belts in belt-positioning booster seats experienced less overall injury (Injury Severity Score [ISS] > 0, adjusted risk ratio [RR] = 0.73, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.55 to 0.96; Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS] score of 2 or higher, adjusted RR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.16 to 0.58; ISS > 8, adjusted RR = 0.19, 95% CI = 0.06 to 0.56), and less injury in most body regions except the neck (adjusted RR = 4.79, 95% CI = 1.43 to 16.00) than did children with no restraint use. Children using seat belts in belt-positioning booster seats had an equal risk of injury but higher risks of neck (adjusted RR = 1.86, 95% CI = 1.02 to 3.40) and thorax (adjusted RR = 2.86, 95% CI = 1.33 to 6.15) injury than did children restrained by seat belts only.

Children using belt-positioning booster seats appear to experience a higher risk of AIS > 0 injury to the neck and thorax than do children using seat belts only. Future research should examine whether the observed increase in neck and thorax injuries can be attributed to improper use of booster seats.

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The findings and conclusions in these newsletter materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Children's Safety Network.