All newborns discharged from hospitals should be transported home in infant car safety seats that are designed appropriately to safely transport healthy newborns, premature infants, or infants with special needs.
Assuring that newborns are restrained properly when riding for the first time sets the stage for continued compliance with a measure that can save their lives or prevent serious injury. Correctly used infant/child safety seats are 71% effective in preventing fatalities due to car crashes, and 67% effective in preventing injury requiring hospitalization.1 With 100% correct use, about 53 000 injuries and 500 deaths could be prevented each year in the United States among children from birth to 4 years of age.2
Although the Every Ride, Safe Ride program of the American Academy of Pediatrics has made major contributions to child passenger safety, including the passage of legislation in all 50 states requiring infants and children to ride properly restrained, newborns continue to be discharged from hospitals without infant car safety seats or in ones that are not being used correctly. A recent study of hospital discharge policies and procedures has shown that only 26% of hospitals with obstetric services have a policy concerning the discharge of newborns in car safety seats. Of those hospitals that have a policy, 64% waive the requirement that newborns be discharged in a car safety seat if the parents do not supply a seat upon discharge.3 A similar study of hospitals accounting for 90% of annual births in Michigan showed that only 24% of hospitals discuss the use of car safety seats with parents, and only 4% demonstrate their use.4