Monday, February 2, 2009

Children with Special Needs Affecting Behavior More Likely to Use Child Restraints Correctly

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Results of the first large-scale study on child restraint use and injury risk among children with special needs likely to affect behavior (i.e. autism and developmental delays) were released today in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that children with special needs likely to affect behavior were more likely to be appropriately restrained in motor vehicles as compared to children with no special needs. Even so, this group of special needs children has a similar risk of injury compared to children without these conditions.

"Children with special needs are driven in private vehicles every day, and we wanted to study their safety in crashes compared with other children," said the study's lead author, Patty Huang, M.D., Fellow, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "The results highlight the importance of appropriate restraint use for all children, especially those older than age four. Parents of children with special needs likely to affect behavior should consult their health care provider or a certified Child Passenger Safety technician for vehicle safety advice that accounts for the unique experiences and needs of their child."

Researchers used the State Farm-funded Partners for Child Passenger Safety study to examine real-world crashes involving more than 14,500 children ages 4 to 15 over a four-year period. They point to a number of reasons why children with special needs affecting behavior might be more likely than other children to use child restraints appropriately.

"Children with special needs are more likely to be driven by a parent than their counterparts without special needs, and previous research shows that children riding with their parents are more likely to be appropriately restrained," said Dr. Huang. "In addition, parents of children with special needs are often extra-vigilant when it comes to their children's safety and therefore ahead of the game with safety practices."

Further research is needed to determine why increased likelihood of appropriate restraint use among children with special needs does not translate to a reduced risk of injury. In the meantime, Huang and her colleagues urge parents and physicians to remain vigilant and to follow recommended restraint practices for all children, keeping in mind each child's unique experience as a passenger, and considering any special needs a child may have.

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