AAP: We may have to walk back rear-facing to age 2 car seat recommendation
Last updated: AAP: We may have to walk back rear-facing to age 2 car seat recommendation. The American Academy of Pediatrics may reverse its recommendation that kids remain rear-facing until age 2 in the wake of a scandal involving a key safety study..
Dr. Ben Hoffman, a spokesperson for the AAP and Professor for Pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, told a car seat conference in Broomfield, CO last week that the group of pediatricians may need to reverse its recommendation from 2011.
“We may have to step back on rear-facing to age 2,” depending on what happens to the revision to the 2007 Injury Prevention study, Dr. Hoffman told attendees. For now, however, Hoffman said the American Academy of Pediatrics has not changed its position: kids should ride rear-facing in car seats until age 2.
As reported by BabyBargains.com in August, questions raised about the study’s accuracy have rocked the car seat world. A new analysis of the landmark study revealed the opposite conclusion: that kids were 5x safer FORWARD-FACING from 12 months to 24 months.
As a result, the journal that published the original study has issued a “statement of concern” regarding the study’s accuracy.
A major maker of car seats, Dorel, announced in July it would no longer recommend a minimum forward-facing age of 2 for its car seats.
The controversy and scandal involving the 2007 Injury Prevention study was the talk of the Kidz in Motion conference held last week. A special panel discussion was scheduled at the last minute to address concerns of car seat technicians. Dr. Hoffman acknowledged in his talk that the issue was “the elephant in the room.”
Dr. Hoffman discussed the history of the rear-facing to age 2 recommendation, admitting there was debate among pediatricians on whether age 2 was the correct number.
The Injury Prevention study (also known as Henary) was a key turning point in that debate.
“If the Henary study was not published in 2007, it is really unlikely we would have said rear-facing to age 2,” Dr. Hoffman said. “We picked that number because that study and data supported it.”
Now that the study is being questioned, Hoffman acknowledged the level of uncertainty and advised patience until the revisions are peer-reviewed. (A re-analysis of the Henary study by its University of Virginia authors is currently in peer review).
Meanwhile, the study scandal has thrown a wrench into efforts to change state car seat laws to mandate rear-facing until age 2. Eight states currently have laws requiring such use, including Dr. Hoffman’s home state of Oregon. A bill to mandate rear-facing use to age 2 is pending in New York, awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature.
“I spent the last year of my life getting a law passed in Oregon to keep kids rear-facing to age 2,” said Dr. Hoffman. When the study scandal broke, Hoffman said he immediately contacted Oregon lawmakers to let them know. “It freaked us out,” Hoffman said candidly.
“We need to be patient—we need to acknowledge the data isn’t perfect,” Hoffman said, calling for more study into the issue.
Update September 13, 2017: When we wrote this post, we requested comment on this story from Dr. Dennis Durbin, lead author of the AAP’s rear-facing to age 2 car seat policy statement. Dr. Durbin wrote back to us today: “My personal view on this issue is the same as Dr. Kent’s who you quoted in your post. While there is a re-analysis of the original data being done to correct an earlier error, the AAP recommendations were based on more than this one study and current recommendations remain the same at this time.”