For many newborn babies, injury risks begin right from the very first car trip from the hospital to the home. According to a new study, newborns are at risk because their parents fail to install the car seat correctly while taking the baby home from the hospital. Children who are not appropriately restrained in a car are at a much higher risk of being killed or suffering injuries in an accident.
The researchers analyzed 167 families with newborn children, and monitored their trip home from the hospital. They found that 93% of the parents actually made at least one mistake, while placing their infant in the car seat. Those mistakes were also made during installation of the car seat.
Some of the more common mistakes while placing the baby car seat, were leaving the safety seat harness too loose with 69% of the parents making these mistakes. Approximately 20% used an after-market product, that was not approved with the car seat and 15% did not know how to adjust the harness.
There were also serious mistakes made in installing the car seat. At least 43% of the parents installed the car seat too loosely, or installed at an incorrect angle. In 23% of the cases, the parents used the safety belt, but did not lock it, and in 17% of the cases, the parents left incorrect spacing between the seat and the front seat.
Not surprisingly, most of these mistakes were made by families who did not speak English or were from a lower economic background. Non-white families or parents who were not married or single women without a partner were more likely to make these mistakes. The study also found that families that had worked together with a certified car safety seat technician were much more likely to install the seat correctly, and position the baby correctly. The correct installation rates were as much as 30% higher in the case of these families.