Children are prone to serious injuries in car accidents because their bodies are still forming. The child restraint industry is constantly evolving with safer, more secure child seats. Newer models improve safety, but they do not overcome all of a child’s vulnerabilities.
Recognize the most common injuries to watch for so you can advocate for your child if necessary.
Traumatic brain injuries
Injuries including concussion and skull base fractures affect infants and young children most frequently following motor vehicle accidents. Infants may experience concussions, while children up to elementary school age are vulnerable to skull base fractures.
Young children experience a wide range of internal injuries in car accidents, some of which are easy to overlook. The softer bones in a child’s body are prone to fracture, including ribs, vertebrae, pelvis and clavicle bones. Children may also experience injuries to the intestines, liver and spleen in a car accident, so be mindful of stomachaches or abdominal discomfort complaints.
Emotional distress is a widespread effect of car accidents, especially for young children. Even if a child survives the accident without even superficial injuries, the trauma response can be significant. Fear of the car, trouble sleeping, anxiety and irritability are common symptoms.
Children often struggle to communicate the symptoms they experience. Sometimes they lack the language skills necessary. In other cases, they may not have the emotional maturity to understand what they are feeling well enough to discuss it. Be attentive to even subtle changes in your child’s behavior following an accident and advocate for a thorough medical evaluation.