The Injury Prevention Center (IPC) at Connecticut Children's Medical Center has released a new study, "Wishful thinking: Safe transportation of newborns at hospital discharge," that examines the parent's use and installation of child safety seats at newborn discharge.
Despite national, state and hospital policies that require newborns to be transported in a child safety seat, there was a significant number of cases of misuse found in the study - further highlighting need for education with newborns' first ride home.
Motor vehicle occupant injury is a significant source of injuries and death among children; in 2010, 12,008 children under the age of 2 were cared for in emergency departments with non-fatal motor vehicle injuries.
Correct child safety seat use can reduce the risk of injury-related death by 71-percent for infants and 54-percent for toddlers. With that in mind, the objective of the study was to describe how parents use and install child safety seats at newborn discharge to gain better understanding of how they learn to install seats and to identify misuse patterns.
"Child safety seats are critical to saving children's lives, but they need to be used properly," said Steven Rogers, MD, ED physician and IPC researcher. "That first ride home sets the stage for how children will be transported going forward."
Eligible participants of varying demographics were recruited from Hartford Hospital before discharge; 101 mothers were enrolled and participated in the study via survey and direct observation. Results showed 85-percent were misused.
Fifty-two percent of the errors were related to how the infant was positioned in the child safety seat and 48-percent to how the child safety seat was placed in the vehicle. Specifically, the study found that 29-percent of the child safety seats were not attached to the vehicle.
Study results highlight the need for compliance with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations issued in 1990 and 1999 stating that "provision of information and training for parents and guardians should be presented before discharge on the generic issues related to correct use of car safety seats. Hands-on teaching including 'return demonstration' should be part of this instruction."
Findings show that compliance with the AAP guideline is not occurring at the birthing hospital and newborns may be at increased risk of car seat safety misuse, and subsequent injury or death, at the time of discharge.
The study was written by Steven Rogers, MD; Karen Brock Gallo, MPH; Hassan Saleheen, MPH and Garry Lapidus, PA-C, MPH; all of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children's Medical Center. The study was published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery in October 2012.