Researchers say parents should be allowed to use chest clips with car seats

Baby in car seat

For the longest time regulators have advised parents not to use chest clips or any other accessories in conjunction with their child’s car seat



“No sign of serious injury related to the chest clip”

But new research into the safety of using chest clips with child car restraints has found clear benefits – and the advice to parents is now being re-examined.

“Despite chest clips being widely used in the United States, they do not meet Australian safety standards due to concerns they may cause neck injuries in a crash,” Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) said in a statement on Tuesday. “However, researchers at the Transurban Road Safety Centre at NeuRA have found no sign of serious injury related to the chest clips when tested on Australian car restraints.”

NeuRa explains that “research using child-sized crash test dummies has shown, for the first time, a potential safety benefit in using plastic chest clips on child car restraints, as they keep shoulder straps together, reducing the risk of serious injury in a crash.”

Proven to reduce risk

A review of real-world data from an American crash database found that the clips are actually helpful.

“We tested chest clips in frontal crashes, using a crash test dummy that represents the smallest child who would normally be forward facing,” said Professor Lynne Bilston, Senior Principal Research Scientist at NeuRA.

“We found that there was actually a reduction in the risk of moderate to serious injury of all types in children under one when chest clips were used properly.” 

Neck injuries were reduced in children who were wearing these clips, and the clips did not lead to any other injuries in kids aged one to five. The crash-testing was done with both loose and tight straps, and it was found that while the clips kept straps where they should be, that it also slid down away from the child’s face and neck on impact. This meant it did not cause further harm to the little passenger.

New Australian standards on the cards?

“The bottom line is that the plastic clips may help to keep straps on a child’s shoulders when they fall asleep in the car seat, although they won’t stop a determined escape artist from wriggling out,” Professor Bilston said.

These findings could completely change the advice given to parents about keeping their children safe, and result in a new approach to how child car restraints are sold.

“The results of this research will be submitted for consideration by the Australian Standards Committee to determine whether plastic chest clips might have a net benefit, allowing them to be supplied with Australian child car restraints,” the NeuRA statement says.

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