More than half of infants and children not belted up during road accidents: KKH study

A study by KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) found that two-thirds of infants under one year old were not wearing restraints when riding in a car - the highest proportion among all the age groups.
A study by KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) found that two-thirds of infants under one year old were not wearing restraints when riding in a car - the highest proportion among all the age groups.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - More than half of infants, children and teenagers up to 16 years old who were riding in a car, motorcycle or bicycle were not buckled up when an accident struck, a local study has found.

A study by KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) found that two-thirds of infants under one year old were not wearing restraints when riding in a car - the highest proportion among all the age groups.

In addition, 70 per cent of the 350 children who were on a bicycle or motorcycle during an accident were also not restrained, according to the study published in Elsevier's Accident Analysis and Prevention journal in March this year.

The study examined data from 2,468 infants and children who were seen at the emergency facilities of KKH and the National University Hospital between January 2012 and April 2016. They include those involved in a motor vehicle crash, as well as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists involved in an accident with a motor vehicle.

Dr Chong Shu-Ling, staff physician at KKH's department of emergency medicine and the study's lead researcher, observed that compared to other advanced countries, children here are often not placed in appropriate child seats and restraints while in the car and on two-wheelers.

"What's even more worrisome, is that the disregard for safety recommendations is seen beginning from early infancy," she said.

In the study, 590 children injured in road accidents had to be hospitalised, with 5.4 per cent brought to hospital in critical condition and requiring cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or surgery.

Most of the other children sustained soft tissue injuries, which affect muscles, tendons or ligaments. Six children died from injuries.

Dr Chong said that these findings point to the need for greater awareness about best practices that improve road safety for children, and the risk of injury when these are not followed.

"We are hopeful that with a better understanding, parents and caregivers will be more conscientious and committed to adherence to safety measures, reducing the incidence of preventable and serious injuries in children locally," she said.