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Shoulder Height Markings Aid in Car Seat Decisions

Last Updated: August 16, 2010.

Shoulder height markings on restraints significantly increase the odds of parents selecting an appropriately-sized child's car seat, according to research published online Aug. 16 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Shoulder height markings on restraints significantly increase the odds of parents selecting an appropriately-sized child's car seat, according to research published online Aug. 16 in Pediatrics.

Julie Brown, Ph.D., of the University of New South Wales in Randwick, Australia, and colleagues studied the ability of 86 recruited participants to select an appropriate child car restraint for two mannequins approximating the sizes of a 3-year-old child and a 5-year-old child. The participants were presented with three pairs of restraints, each pair comprising a toddler car seat and a booster seat meant for older children. Two of the pairs of restraints carried markings indicating correct shoulder height placement as a fitting aid.

The researchers found that significantly fewer errors were made in judging an appropriate restraint for each of the two mannequins when the restraints included shoulder height markings. Depending on the label format, the odds of a participant selecting the correct size of restraint were 3.7 to 5.2 times higher when shoulder height labels were included than when they were not included.

"This is a novel, potentially powerful countermeasure to the serious, widespread problem of premature graduation from child safety seats to booster seats and from booster seats to seat belts that occurs among children who travel in cars in most developed countries," the authors write.

The study was supported by a research grant from the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria Road Safety Research Fund.

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