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Are You Protecting Your Children?

The growing awareness of safe driving and state safety laws have alerted the general public and parents to the importance of using car seats for their small children whenever and wherever they are driving. Most states require the use of car seats for children under the age of 4 and weighing less than 40 pounds. However, these safety rules aimed at protecting children may cause serious neck and spinal injuries and can even be deadly if the child car seats are used incorrectly.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), its Council on Occupational Health and ACA member Dr. Michael Freeman, trauma epidemiologist and clinical assistant professor of public health and preventive medicine at the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine, have developed the following general guidelines and safety tips to ensure proper car seat safety.

While car accidents can be dangerous for all passengers, small children are especially at risk, according to Dr. Scott Bautch, past president of ACA's Council on Occupational Health. "The weight of the head of a child makes the cervical spine much more vulnerable to injury," Dr. Bautch explained. "The infant has little control in the muscles of the neck, and the head can bounce from side to side and fall forward, which can cause serious spine and neck injuries. Children have more flexible upper bodies and shoulders. Make sure the harness comes up, way up, over the shoulders."

Underscoring the importance of proper car seat use, a recent article in Nation's Health reported the findings of a study conducted in Kentucky by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study found a 37 percent drop in infant fatalities since the 1982 enactment of the state law mandating the use of child car seats. "To continue this decline, prevention efforts now must focus on the proper use of the seats to maximize their life-saving potential," the researchers said.

The key when traveling with small children is to be aware of and follow these rules and tips to ensure proper car seat safety. And remember everyone: Buckle up!

If you or one of your children have been involved in a serious automobile accident and have experienced neck and back discomfort, you should consider a visit to a chiropractor.

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