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

However, Injury Risk Remains the Same as for Other Children

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 2 /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.

About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking second in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 430-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit

About Partners for Child Passenger Safety

For the past decade, Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) served as the world's largest child-focused motor vehicle crash surveillance system and an important source of data for child passenger safety. PCPS informed new product development, test protocols and regulations, education, policy, and medical practice. Its findings are recognized worldwide. For more information:

    CONTACT: Dana Mortensen
    The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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