New Research on Child Spine Injuries in Auto Accidents

  Medical News Today reports on new research published in this month’s issue of the journal Injury: Fatal cervical spine injuries to children in motor vehicle crashes are rare, but they are more commonly seen in girls, in children who were restrained, and in children who also suffered traumatic brain injury in the crash.

Researchers from Ohio State University Medical Center, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania studied more than 6,000 children and found that only 2.9 percent of auto accident fatalities involved a cervical spine injury.

Dr. Michael Nance of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, director of the hospital’s trauma program and co-author of the study, said, “This research confirms that cervical spine injuries are no more common in fatal crashes than they are in non-fatal crashes involving children. Interestingly, we found no association between fatal cervical spine injuries and vehicle type or model year, the speed or direction of the collision impact, or the child’s age or seating position when the crash occurred.”

This study linked two previously independent sets of data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for an analysis of crash characteristics related to injuries. Funding for the study was provided by the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS).

"Being able to use this merged set of data allowed us to study relatively rare injuries in larger numbers," Nance explained. "For the vast majority of crashes, vehicle and child restraints reduce the risk of death and most serious injuries. The findings point to the importance of the continued work aimed at preventing all serious injuries for children in vehicle or child restraints who are in crashes. Our work through The Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies provides the unique opportunity to bring together the best of pediatrics, engineering, and industry to conduct science and translate it into improved capability of child anthropomorphic test dummies to predict cervical spine injuries."

The most interesting fact discovered by this research is that fatal cervical spine injuries are more common among children who are restrained. This doesn’t mean that you should stop putting your children in car seats. As the researchers point out, restraints reduce the risk of death and injury in the vast majority of auto accidents.

To reduce your child’s risk of injury, make sure that the child restrains fit your child. Regular seat belts should not be used until the strap fits across the child’s shoulder (not the neck). Likewise, larger car seats should not be used until the strap fits across the shoulder. When you get a new car seat, always read the owner’s manual thoroughly. If you need help choosing and using a new car seat, see the interactive Car Seat Inspector program at about.com.

Spine injuries can be especially devastating for children. If your child has suffered a spine injury, you need an experienced Georgia spine injury attorney in your corner. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 if you have any questions about your legal rights. We’ll schedule a free consultation for you.