The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has changed a portion of its car seat guidelines. Parents are now advised to keep children in rear-facing seats until they're at least two years old, one year later than previously recommended.
The guideline change comes after a 2007 study found that children under age two are five times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a car accident while in a front-facing car seat than in a rear-facing seat. Because their heads are large compared to their bodies, infants and toddlers are especially at risk for neck injuries in the event of a car crash. Rear-facing seats distribute the crash impact along a larger surface area, better protecting young children, experts say.
The AAP's previous recommendation was to keep children in rear-facing seats as long as the manufacturer's height and weight limits permitted, but the academy also set a minimum requirement that children be at least one year old and weigh at least 20 pounds before car seats could be turned around. Pennsylvania's car seat laws currently mandate that children be in a rear-facing seat until they reach the one year and 20 pound mark.