Health Library ~ Family Medicine in Mullica Hill, NJ

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Child Safety Seats

By Craig M. Wax, DO

Did you know that approximately 80 percent of children are not correctly secured in their car seats? How about that 170,000 car passengers under the age of 14 are injured each year? Or that 40 percent of children riding in cars are not placed in safety seats or secured by seat belts? "When using car seats, the first rule of advice people need to follow is whether the child is in the correct seat for his age and whether he is facing the right direction," explains Craig M. Wax, D.O., an osteopathic family physician practicing in Mullica Hill, NJ.

There are three types of car seats for children: 1. Infant seats: intended for babies from birth until at least 20 pounds and one year of age. These should face the rear of the car. 2. Convertible seats: intended for children more than 20 pounds and up to 40 pounds and four years of age. These seats face forward. 3. Booster seats: intended for children who have outgrown the convertible seat but are not large enough to use the seat belts. Usually children can use the seat belts when they are between 8 and 12 years of age, between 40 and 60 pounds, and at least 4 feet 9 inches.

In addition, Dr. Wax says that it is important to keep the following safety rules in mind:

* Always place children in car seats until they are large enough for the seat belts.

* When using a rear-facing car seat, do not place it in the car?s front seat especially if it has a passenger side airbag. The safest place for children is in the back seat.

* For a baby without much head control, use a head support intended for car seats or a rolled up blanket to place around the head so it does not jostle from side to side.

* Allow children to only play with soft toys when they are in their car seats.

* Always use the correct car seat for the child's age, height and weight. Do not use pillows or towels so the child will fit better into the seat.

* If the baby is sick or needs constant attention, have an adult sit in the back seat rather than having the driver turn around to attend to the child.

* Avoid using car seats that are more than 10 years old or purchased at yard sales.

* Never leave a child in a car seat unattended.

* Serve as a role model and buckle up.

"When dealing with car safety seats, there are two main points to remember," stresses Dr. Wax. "Children must be buckled snugly into the seat and the seat must be secured tightly into the car. In NJ, children must remain in car safety seats and boosters until the age of 8 or they reach 80lbs.

Craig M. Wax, DO, LLC of Mullica Hill, NJ provides information on health, nutrition, family medicine, preventive medicine, wellness, natural treatments, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, osteopathic medicine and just plain common sense.
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