Volume 43, Issue 5 (September 1998)
Airbag Mediated Death of a Two-Year-Old Child Wearing a Shoulder/Lap Belt
Airbag injuries have resulted in the deaths of several infants and small children, and such deaths are generally associated with rearward-facing infant seats or unrestrained children in front passenger seats of cars equipped with airbags. An airbag can also cause death in a small child wearing a shoulder/lap belt, however, as this case report illustrates. A two-year-old female was involved in a low-speed collision while riding in the front passenger seat of a dual-airbag-equipped automobile. Secondary impact with the airbag caused catastrophic occipitoatlantoaxial disarticulation with traumatic spinal cord separation, thermal injury and abrasions of the right forearm and distinctive patterned abrasions of the face. The possibility of airbag injury should be considered in all low-speed traffic fatalities, and the confirmatory injuries sought at postmortem examination.