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Facial Fractures in Car Accidents Decreasing

Last Updated: May 19, 2009.

Improvements in car design with a view to minimizing the effects of crashes may help explain the decrease in facial fractures as a result of car accidents, while use of seat belts and other restraints continues to be an important aspect of injury prevention, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery.

TUESDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Improvements in car design with a view to minimizing the effects of crashes may help explain the decrease in facial fractures as a result of car accidents, while use of seat belts and other restraints continues to be an important aspect of injury prevention, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery.

Brian T. McMullin, M.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and colleagues analyzed data from the 1993 to 2005 National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System database to assess injury trends by calendar year and vehicle model year.

The researchers found that facial fractures and overall incidence of injury were lower for crashes involving newer models of cars, and use of seat belts in cars with frontal air bags was associated with a significantly lower likelihood of facial fracture, although there was no such association with air bags alone. Facial fractures were more likely in crashes involving side impact and vehicles of different sizes, the investigators discovered.

"Restraint use continues to be the most significant element for facial and skull base injury prevention, and more research is necessary to elucidate the mechanisms for facial and skull base fractures in side impacts, as well as to determine the effectiveness of side impact supplemental restraint systems," the authors write. "Furthermore, factors such as changes in vehicle fleet composition may alter injury trends."

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