Rear-facing car seat safest for toddlers

LOS ANGELES Kids may be fast and free on the playground, but in the car Andrea Repp always plays it safe. Her kids are always buckled up in their car seats. New research suggests that her kids could be safer if she turned their car seats around.

"I don't know how realistic it is for parents to do that. My children are so happy facing forward in their car seats," said Repp.

New research from the British Medical Journal suggests kids should stay rear facing until 4 years old.

Experts say that a crash test from the University of Virginia makes a good case for rear facing seats.

"It allows the child's head, neck and spine to move all in unison straight up the seat on initial impact and then straight back down," said Sharon Muns, Mayo Clinic.

"Some parents may chose to turn their child forward facing for personal reasons. They may want to interact with the child, but we just want them to know that when it comes to safety it is safer for them to ride rear facing," said Kerry Chausmer, Safe Kids USA.

While Andrea wants to protect her kids she's concerned about her children's safety. Her daughter Heidi, 3, has long legs.

"My daughter is very tall. She is in the 90th percentile. If she is facing backwards then her legs are going to be cramped and hitting the seat," said Andrea.

Car seats are not made for kids between 1 and 4," said Dr. Neville Anderson, Huntington Medical Foundation.

Pediatricians say few car seats are built to hold the weight of a 3-year-old rear facing. "As long as the child is comfortable in the car seat facing backwards then they should leave their child in the car seat as long as possible. But once the child is not comfortable in the car seat after age 1 and if they are more than 20 pounds then it is time to switch them around and face them forward," said Dr. Anderson.

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