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Facts About Children and Auto Accidents

Austin Car Crash and Auto Accident Facts

Facts About Children and Auto Accidents

Did you know: Injuries are the leading cause death in children older than 1 year old and are the leading cause of visits to the doctor after the age of 12. Here are some known facts about children and car accidents:


  • Injuries are the leading cause death in children older than 1 year old and are the leading cause of visits to the doctor after the age of 12.

  • Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in children as a result of injury. 

  • Of the 40,300 deaths related to auto accidents in 1992, 5.1 percent were children younger than 5 years; 4.9 percent were children 5-14.

  • Each year twice as many children are injured or killed while inside automobiles as are injured or killed outside of automobiles. 

  • More children die from automobile trauma than from any disease in the United States.  One in every 48 children born in the United States will die in a motor vehicle collision before the age of 25 and one in every 20 children born in the United States will be seriously injured in an automobile accident.  

  • Most injuries occur when the mother is driving and usually someone runs into her car.  These accidents usually occur close to home without the influence of alcohol or bad weather.  One-third of all pediatric car injuries occur at speeds under 40 mph.  The percentage of children being injured at speeds of 0-34 mph, 35-54 mph and 55 mph and is over is essentially the same.  Children experience a higher proportion of injuries and deaths than adults.  

According to Alcof, a young child is 40-50 times more likely to die from a car crash than from all the common childhood diseases children are immunized against.  

The pediatric toddler is head is disproportionally large.  At birth the head is proportionally larger and accounts for 25% of the body length as compared to 15% in the adult.  As a result the head and cervical spine of the newborn is most likely injured.  

Toddlers 0-3 years of age also have a disproportionate head size and are more likely to sustain head injuries as the result of a collision.  

Rear facing child safety seats restrict forward head flexion and reduces cervical and head injuries. The reduced height of the pelvis of a child is more likely to cause serious abdominal injuries resulting from the seat belt slipping over the brim of the pelvis.  

With rapid deceleration the seatbelt causes a “jackknifing” with compression and injury of the abdominal viscera.  The hallmark indicator of abdominal viscera and mid-lumbar spine injury is abdominal or flank ecchymosis or bruising.   

Children have less developed muscles and connective tissue which increases the probabilities for spinal and neurological injury. Children ages 4-9 are at risk of submarining under the seatbelt and sustaining injury.

A parent should never hold an infant on their lap.  If the weight of the child is 25 lbs., its effective weight increases to 500 pounds in a 25 mph frontal crash with 20 g forces.  (25lb x 20G- 500 lb.)  It is impossible for the adult to hold the baby under those circumstances.  

Children run more risk of injury or death traveling unrestrained in a vehicle than in a pedestrian-auto accident.  It is estimated that disabling to fatal injuries to children can be reduced 78-91 percent by using a restraint system.   Studies show that 49 percent of child passenger deaths could have been prevented with proper restraints.  

Trauma Injuries in Children & Infants

Studies show that the number one cause (27.5%) of closed head injury in the pediatric population is a result of motor vehicle collision.  

Jackson noted that the traumatic injuries of childhood can begin the process of degeneration that can occasionally result in enough degeneration to fuse and appear as a congenital condition later in life.  

In the posterior cervical spine the capsular ligaments are more elastic than adults and they are more horizontally oriented.  As a result they are more susceptible to a flexion extension injury in whiplash during the hyperextension phase.  These factors combined with the proportionally heavier head and undeveloped cervical spine musculature cause injury in the young spine.  

According to researchers 30-50 percent of children have post-traumatic stress syndromes as a result of a motor vehicle collision.   Symptoms include: nightmares, separation anxiety, and fear of the dark, sleep disturbance, reluctance to cross roads or travel by vehicle, and a preoccupation with road safety.  

According to our Austin chiropractor, Dr. Wendee Whitehead: “It is my greatest joy to help a child get out of pain and find relief when they have been traumatized due to an accident.  I once had a patient who was only 6 and following the accident she was unable to sleep.  Her parents would find her awake at 1 or 2 am.  Following her first gentle upper cervical adjustment she slept thru the night and has no longer suffered with insomnia.  Her Mom said she was actually oversleeping at times.  The upper cervical spine is the master control center of the body.  When this area is misaligned due to an accident it change the circulation to the brain and alter mood, hormones and sleep.  Restoring normal alignment relieves the pressure from the brain stem and allows the body to have 100 communication between the brain and the body resulting in optimal health and happiness.”  

If you or your child was in an auto accident and would like more information about chiropractic treatment in Austin, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.


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