Abu Dhabi A recent survey to analyse mother's attitudes towards infant passenger safety measures showed that an alarming 82 per cent of postnatal mothers did not have car seats for their newborns.
The Corniche Hospital Infant Passenger Safety Survey (Chipss), consisted of 15 questions that were answered by 800 antenatal and postnatal mothers — focusing on which behavioural stage they were in — in order to educate them on the need for car seats.
"This initiative made us realise that mothers need a new born safety education programme about sudden infant death syndrome (Sid), promoting having newborns sleep on their back instead of their stomach, and to place infants in car seats," Amira Wali, Director of Public Health and Communications at Corniche Hospital, told Gulf News.
The Chipss results have encouraged the hospital to launch a newborn safety centre, where parents would be trained to properly fit and install the car seat, by a qualified child passenger safety educator.
To support this initiative, the National Health Insurance Company (Daman), has donated 7,000 car-seats.
Additionally, 45 car seats have already been distributed to the hospital. Before patients are discharged from the hospital, mothers are given a 45 minutes educational session regarding car safety education, which is part of the newly launched Johns Hopkins Medicine International's newborn safety campaign, titled the First Ride is a Safe Ride.
First step forward
"The aim of this project is to help parents take responsibility for their child's safety. This initiative is the first step in helping parents protect their children on the road for years to come.
"During the Chipss we held a series of focus groups with mothers, and found that many of them thought that babies six months or older could be placed in a car seat, others had the misconception that holding their baby in their arms was safer," Wali said.
She added: "We informed mothers that even at low speeds (60 kilometres per hour), a mother could not physically hold on to her baby in the event of a crash."
Car Seat Benefit
According to a traffic survey conducted by the UAE University earlier this year, securing a child in a child car seat and placing it on the rear seat of the car, could prevent:
- 71 per cent of infant fatalities.
- 54 per cent of toddler fatalities.
The UAE traffic laws dictate that children are to be securely fastened by seat belts in the rear seats of the vehicle, and children under ten years of age, are not allowed to ride in the front seat.