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Knockoff car seats are an increasing risk to children

Safety experts say hundreds of untested and uncertified car seats that infiltrate online retail sites continue to endanger the well-being of children.

Injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, 675 children under age 12 died in crashes while 116,000 received serious injuries.

Buying car seats online is risky business

Car-seat manufacturers are required to meet stringent federal regulations and prove that their seats can pass hundreds of tests. Retailers then decide which products to carry, but many are fooled by companies that market knockoff seats that look similar to those that passed tests.

In the past, parents usually purchased these products in brick-and-mortar stores. But with the advent of third-party sellers, online retailers, such as Amazon, Walmart and others often have the choice to sell thousands of items, some that may be untested and unsafe.

Putting a price on safety can be difficult

Car-seat maker Doona sells a certified stroller-car seat for about $500, but a fake version of the model sells for $239 on AliExpress. Pediatricians say the knockoff isn’t safe to be used as a stroller, let alone as a car seat, thereby creating serious risks for infants.

Certified companies are aware of these fake versions and routinely buy them. They say the fake car seats fail nearly every safety test. 

How do you spot the knockoffs?

Experts recommend buying car seats in person to ensure that you’re getting the real deal from the manufacturer. If you want to buy one online, ask the following questions:

  • Can you find the manufacturer’s website easily?
  • Is the seat listed on the American Academy of Pediatrics approved list?
  • Does the deal seem too good to be true?
  • Is the seat being sold by a trusted retailer like Target, Buy Buy Baby and Nordstrom, which only sell certified seats directly from the manufacturer?

The bottom line is that if you suspect the seat is a fake, contact the manufacturer. They can easily spot knockoffs that put your child at risk.

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