Mythbusters: Are bent legs in a car seat developmentally dangerous?

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I had the great fortune of helping out at a fantastic car seat check event a few weeks back where I met with 4 different families. While their car seats and children could not have been more different, all 4 of them asked me the same question: isn’t having bent legs (while rear facing) bad for a child’s hips?

I see this quite a bit on the internet- inevitably whenever a news source writes about a new law or rear facing evidence, someone comments that sitting with the legs bent is going to forever stunt the growth of a child or cause hip dysplasia or otherwise damage a baby’s developing bones. So it seems like it’s time to delve into the research and maybe dust off my physical therapy degree.

Myth: Having legs bent or in a frogged position when rear facing can cause damage to the hip/knee joints and associated bones.

Quinn in Fllo rf

First, let’s look at hip dysplasia. This is obviously a concern for many parents of infants. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip “socket” is not deep enough, typically at birth. This is common in babies who are breech, first babies and in multiples. When babies have dysplasia, the first line of treatment is a harness. This harness attaches to the baby’s trunk and a series of straps pull the hip into flexion and abduction, basically a frog leg position.

Which is oddly similar to how big kids sit while rear facing. So it stands to reason that if the child sits in the position a hip dysplasia harness would hold them in rear facing, that there’s no significant risk of hip dysplasia from extended rear facing. Also worth noting is that by the time kids reach the age where their legs are scrunched, they are typically standing/walking, which helps deepen that hip socket and vastly reduces the risk of hip dysplasia.

oliver rf bvct 1 Infant in a Pavlik Harness Source: http://www.wheatonbrace.com/products/wpharness.html http://www.lpch.org/photos/greystone/ei_0239.gif http://catalog.nucleusinc.com/generateexhibit.php?ID=4574&ExhibitKeywordsRaw=dysplasia&TL=1280&A=2

Okay, so I feel like we’re good on the dysplasia part. So what about bone growth?

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Someone call the wahhhhhmbulance

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screaming baby clip art…because I think I’m about to lose my head. How many times have you said this to yourself from the front seat as your baby screams bloody murder behind you in their car seat?

Trust me, I know the feeling. It’s a cross between extreme sadness from hearing the wails, and a stabby frustration that there’s nothing you can do about it. Half of me wanted to beg and plea for his mercy for having strapped him into such an obvious torture device, and the other half of me wanted to scream, “FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SLEEP IN THE CAR LIKE EVERY OTHER BABY ON THIS GODFORSAKEN PLANET?????”. Instead I just white knuckled it every drive and blasted my music while taking deep breaths.

I’m not sure why some babies hate the car. It seemed to me that everyone I knew had babies that slept like angels as soon as the car started moving. Heck, if their kids wouldn’t go to bed, the solution was to pop them in the car and go for a drive. Then there was Liam, who transformed into a diaper wearing, spit up wielding Gremlin who would gladly claw your eyes out if given the chance and had a scream with a pitch that could summon the gods to an otherworldly war.

My first born.

My first born.

I’m fairly certain I have 20 years worth of hearing loss that occurred in one trip to Target. Nothing I did helped. Nothing. He literally screamed every car trip from the time he “woke up” from his newborn slumber at around 3 weeks till he was about 18 months old. He did have reflux, so that probably contributed. But mostly I think it’s that he hates any form of physical restraint on his body. I’ve never understood people’s insistence on having an infant seat that attaches to a stroller because I’ve never experienced a moment where I wasn’t scrambling to unbuckle them out of their car seat! Even sweet, easy going Declan would never ever be content in a car seat that wasn’t in the car. He wasn’t a car screamer-thank god- but there was no way on this green earth that he was going to lay in his infant seat while we strolled through the store. As soon as the car engine turned off he would fuss until he was unbuckled and freed.

Hi, I'm the easier second child but I will still make your shopping trip one you will never forget if you don't get me out of this thing as soon as you cut the engine.

Hi, I’m the easier second child but I will still make your shopping trip one you will never forget if you don’t get me out of this thing as soon as you cut the engine.

It was truly crippling, life with my car screamer. I plotted my days to exist solely in a 5 mile radius of my house because I couldn’t take anything longer. I declined invitations to family gatherings, birthday parties, etc that were too far. It wasn’t because I thought it was damaging to him; it was because it was damaging to ME. I have an extremely low tolerance for noise and that combined with the traffic in Phoenix just made it impossible for me.

So what can you do? Well I’m convinced nothing will stop it. But word on the streets from people who don’t have a Gremlin for a child is that there are some things you can try.

Numero uno: Consider switching to a

Jack of All Trades? A Review of the Safety 1st Continuum 3-in-1 Convertible.

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Out of the box glory!

Out of the box glory!

Remember back in the day when our choices for birth to booster seats were very limited, and quite frankly, pretty awful? It’s totally amazing how much has changed, and how many choices we have regardless of budget and scenario. Dorel/Safety 1st has released several of these budget-friendly seats and the Continuum is one of them. It’s basically a budget version of the Safety 1st Grow and Go Convertible with slightly lower height/weight limits. You can buy the Safety 1st Continuum for less than $120!

Let’s get to the basics first before touching on the more juicy details.

Height and weight limits:

  • Rear facing: 5-40 lbs. and 19-40 inches or when the head is above the top of the headrest
  • Forward facing: in harness mode 22-50 lbs. and 29-45 inches (and a minimum of 2 years of age!)
  • Belt positioning booster: 40-80 lbs. and 43-52 inches (and at least 4 years old!)

Continuum Features:

  • No rethread harness (except in newborn mode) that also adjusts the headrest
  • 3 crotch buckle positions (only the first two positions are permitted for rear facing use)
  • 3 recline positions (2 for RF; 1 for FF and booster mode)
  • Harness holders to keep straps out of the way when your child enters or exits the seat
  • Removable, dishwasher safe cup holder
  • FAA certified for use in airplane with 5-pt harness
  • 10 year life span before expiration!

Measurements:

Takata Airbag Recall: Get Your Car Fixed Now

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An attempt to save money takes lives and ultimately costs millions in fines. Are you flipping mad yet? You should be.

Takata logoIn the largest auto recall in history, tens of millions of vehicles have been recalled to have 28.8 million airbags replaced. Takata airbag inflators have injured more than 100 people and killed 11 people: 10 in the U.S. and 1 in Malaysia, with the most recent being a 17 year old Texas girl on March 31. The 17 year old was driving a 2002 Honda Civic and, according to Honda, several recall notices had been sent to the registered owners (they claim not to have received any).

This story has been in the news for years and you’ve probably paid some attention to it just because of its frequency on the news, but with the media’s fixation on the election, disease du jour, ISIS, and so on, a few airbag deaths get left behind in our daily news consumption of dread.

What’s been happening is that the airbag itself isn’t killing drivers: it’s shrapnel from the explosive device used to deploy the airbag. These metal fragments explode out at such a force that they slice right through skin, eyes, arteries, and even spinal columns. This is happening when the airbags deploy in minor crashes, collisions from which the victims should be walking away.

Before you run out and disconnect your airbags (and I know some of you will), these explosive devices, or inflators, are needed in order to deploy the airbag. In fact, they’re in other safety devices throughout your vehicle and activate in crashes, but we’re focusing on airbags here. When the airbag sensors detect a crash, the inflators ignite, starting a chemical reaction that fills the airbag with gas. It sounds crazy scary, but airbags have saved thousands of lives. Between 2010 and 2013 (the latest year from which we have data), 9,554 lives were saved by frontal airbags. Many thousands upon thousands more lives have been saved since the frontal airbag was introduced in the ‘70s.

Background

Problems with exploding airbags initially cropped up back in 2004 in Alabama when a Honda Accord airbag exploded, injuring its driver. Because it was the first incident, both Honda and Takata chalked it up to being an anomaly and moved on without issuing a recall. According to the New York Times, Honda did report the incident to NHTSA, but didn’t elaborate in the report that it was an airbag rupture. Then again in 2007, three more ruptures were reported to Honda, and again, Honda did not elaborate in their reports to NHTSA that the airbags were exploding. In 2007, Honda told Takata of the ruptures and Takata went to work to find the cause: manufacturing problems at their Mexican plant. However, the ruptures continued and after more testing, Takata linked the problem to manufacturing problems at their Washington state factory.

Recalls began in 2008 and initially only driver’s side airbag inflators were recalled, but passenger airbag inflators were added as those started to rupture as well. Then in August 2015, side airbag inflators came under inspection when a Volkswagen Tiguan’s seat mounted side airbags ruptured after a collision with a deer. GM also reported a rupture to NHTSA. This “SSI-20” inflator is found in Volkswagen and GM vehicles and has been recalled in those vehicles too.

Takata Timeline