Children with special physical health care needs: Restraint use and injury risk in motor vehicle crashes

Patty Huang, Michael J. Kallan, Joseph O'Neil, Marilyn J. Bull, Nathan J. Blum, Dennis R. Durbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Physical disabilities may affect a child passenger's fit within a conventional motor vehicle restraint. The aim of this study is to describe and compare injury risk in motor vehicle crashes (MVC) among children with and without special physical health care needs (SPHCN). This analysis, conducted in 2007-2008, utilizes data collected between December 1998 and November 2002 in a crosssectional study of children ≤15 years old involved in crashes of State-Farm insured vehicles in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Parent reports via telephone survey were used to define pre-crash SPHCN, restraint status, and occurrence of significant injuries using a validated survey. Complete data were collected for 18,852 children aged 0-15 years; 159 children were reported to have a SPHCN (0.8% and 0.7% of children aged 0-8 and 9-15 years, respectively). A greater proportion of children with SPHCN aged 0-8 years were appropriately restrained (P<0.001), but there was no significant difference in restraint use among children with and without SPHCN aged 9-15 years. There was no significant association between the presence of a SPHCN and injury risk in either age group, after adjustment for child/driver characteristics (children aged 0-8 years: OR 1.27, 95% CI: 0.48-3.33; children aged 9-15 years: OR 1.51, 95% CI: 0.38-6.11). Children with and without SPHCN have similar injury risk in MVC, despite increased age-appropriate restraint usage among children aged 0-8 years. When counseling families about vehicle safety, practitioners should consider the fit of a child with SPHCN in a restraint system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-954
Number of pages6
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • Injuries
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Safety restraint use
  • Special health care needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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