Influence of restraining devices on patterns of pediatric facial trauma in motor vehicle collisions.

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In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is required that all children under the age of 4 years be restrained by an infant seat or car seat appropriate for their age and weight. Furthermore, all individuals riding in the front seat must be restrained by a seatbelt. This study examined the relationship between patterns of facial injuries and the use of restraining devices in the pediatric population. A retrospective analysis was performed on motor vehicle collision data submitted to the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study database from 1990 through 1995. Criteria for submission included trauma patients who were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, those who died during hospitalization, those who were hospitalized for more than 72 hours, or those who were transferred in or out of the receiving hospital. A subset of 412 pediatric patients, 15 years of age or younger, was analyzed for patterns of facial injury and the presence or absence of restraining devices. Restraining devices were categorized as a car seat or a seatbelt. Statistical analysis was performed using chi-square and Fisher's exact tests. Of the 412 pediatric patients, only 17 children were restrained with a car seat and 121 were wearing a seatbelt. A total of 30 children sustained facial fractures, and 50 children suffered facial lacerations. There was a statistically significant increase in the incidence of facial fractures with increasing age of the child (p < 0.001). Of children with facial fractures, 70 percent of those 5 to 12 years old and 90 percent of those 13 to 15 years old were unrestrained (p = 0.166). In conclusion, despite legislation mandating the use of restraints, a large proportion of children involved in motor vehicle collisions were unrestrained. Furthermore, there seems to be a direct relationship between the age of a child and the incidence of facial fractures sustained in motor vehicle collisions.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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