Top Reason for Teen Spine Injuries: Not Wearing Seat Belts

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY, May 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Two-thirds of spinal fractures suffered by American children and teens occur in car crashes when they are not wearing seat belts, according to a new study.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 34,500 US patients under the age of 18 who suffered spinal fractures between 2009 and 2014. Adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17 accounted for about 63% of spinal fractures. , two-thirds of them in road accidents.

These results show that around the time teens get their driver’s licenses, young drivers and passengers are most at risk for spine fractures in car crashes, according to the authors of the published study. recently posted in the newspaper. Spine.

Investigators also found a strong link between not bending over in the car and an increased risk of spinal fractures.

“Almost two-thirds of pediatric vertebral fractures suffered [motor vehicle accidents] has occurred in children not wearing a belt, ”wrote Dr. Vishal Sarwahi, of Cohen Children’s Medical Center, New Hyde Park, NY, and colleagues in a press release.


Spine fractures in children and adolescents were associated with a 3% fatality rate, with many deaths occurring in unrestrained drivers and passengers, the researchers noted.

Another study found that the risk of serious or multiple injuries and death was more than twice as high (almost 71%) when children and adolescents did not wear seat belts than when they did (29 %).

Seat belt wear was associated with lower rates of multiple vertebral fractures, other types of fractures in addition to spinal fractures, head and brain injuries, and a risk of death of over 20% lower in car accidents.

The researchers also found that 58% of young patients with spine fractures were men, and spine fractures were more common in the South (38%), possibly because the lack of public transportation drives more vehicles on the road.

The percentage of American drivers wearing seat belts has increased steadily over the years, but teens and young adults remain less likely to use them, the study authors noted.


The findings underscore the need for action to increase seat belt use by young drivers and passengers, such as targeted approaches using technology and media awareness campaigns, the researchers suggested.

“Getting our new young drivers to wear protective gear can dramatically reduce the morbidity / mortality associated with [motor vehicle accidents] and can help save lives and thorns, ”the research team concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on seat belt use by older children and adolescents.

SOURCE: Spine, press release, May 14, 2021

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