Seat belt syndrome in children: a case report and review of the literature

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2001 Dec;17(6):474-7. doi: 10.1097/00006565-200112000-00021.


Characteristic patterns of injury to children in automobile crashes resulting from lap and lap-shoulder belts have been described for many years. These injuries are known as the "seat belt syndrome." We present a typical case of seat belt syndrome involving a 4-year-old boy and review the current literature on the topic, highlighting proposed mechanisms of intra-abdominal and spine injuries. In addition, recent research findings identifying a new pattern of injuries associated with inappropriate seat belt use in young children are reviewed. Emergency physicians must consider these seat belt-related injuries in the initial evaluation of any child involved in a motor vehicle crash who was restrained with the vehicle seat belt.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / etiology*
  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Perforation
  • Jejunum / injuries
  • Male
  • Seat Belts / adverse effects*
  • Spinal Injuries / etiology*