Study: Airbags May Help Older Children

Airbags are harmful to most children, but those aged nine to 12 could actually benefit from them, according to a recently published School of Public Health report.

The report, published in August's Risk Analysis: An International Journal, was publicized nationally Monday.

Authors Roberta J. Glass, Maria Segui-Gomez and John D. Graham, director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA), analyzed data from fatal accidents from 1989 to 1998 involving 16,177 children.


They concluded that children sitting in the front seat of a car during an accident were 31 percent more likely to be killed in the accident, even when wearing a seat belt. If children were not wearing seatbelts, fatality rates rose to 84 percent.

Despite these alarming figures, Glass said the meat of the report is that children aged nine to 12 "appear to get some benefits from airbags."

The study found that children aged nine to 12 who were wearing seat belts were 39 percent less likely to be killed in accidents than children in cars not equipped with airbags.

However, Glass cautioned that parents should continue to seat children in the back seats of automobiles.

"They are much safer in the back seat than they would ever be in the front," Glass said.

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