PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – From sturdy cribs to sterilized bottles, new parents will do anything to keep their little ones safe, but workers at Oregon Health & Science University are seeing a growing problem before some parents can leave the hospital with their newborns.
Marlee Chovich, a health educator in OHSU’s mother-baby unit, talks to new parents about infant safety before the family and baby are discharged from the hospital. Chovich told KOIN 6 News, that at least once a week, she comes across a family who unknowingly purchased a counterfeit car seat to take their baby home.

“Oftentimes, these deals just seem way too good to be true online. They’re marketed and they look really nice with the stroller combo and they’re seen on Amazon and even Walmart’s website,” Chovich said. “I try to approach the family as gently as I can because I know that they’re doing their best. And families oftentimes are just shocked because they don’t know that that’s even a thing. They have no clue that that’s something that’s out on the market and it is really scary.”

She says OHSU never wants a new parent to leave the hospital without a car seat that meets U.S. safety standards. The hospital will also work with families and sell them a safe car seat at a price each family can afford.

Chovic highlighted five things to know before buying a car seat. First, she noted it’s important to make sure the car seat has a five-point chest clip with a harness.

“The harness comes in contact with the seat at five different points, the counterfeit or unapproved car seats that we’ve seen have had a three-point harness without the chest clip and without the hip straps,” Chovich said.

Second, Chovich said it’s also important “that the base has to have legally required lower anchors.”

Third, the car seat should have stickers with federally mandated rules for use in vehicles as Chovich explained “this means that it’s passed crash test and it’s safe to use here in the United States.”

Fourth, there should also be stickers that give specific height and weight recommendations. Lastly, the car seat should come with a registration card with pre-paid postage.

OHSU also works with families to sell them a safe car seat at a price each family can afford.

KOIN 6 also talked to Dr. Ben Hoffman, professor of pediatrics at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and found out that an alarming number of new parents don’t know how to install a car seat properly.

“We did a study at OHSU several years ago that showed that 95% of the families leaving our newborn nursery with their brand new babies made very significant mistakes in terms of how they used their car seat and how they installed it in their car seat,” Hoffman said.

Dr. Hoffman, who also serves as Medical Director of the Child Injury Prevention Program at OHSU wants parents and caregivers to know Doernbecher has safety technicians available to help make sure your child is in the right type of car seat and teach you how to properly install your car seat.

“We have appointments available for families. They don’t have to be Dorernbecher families, for anybody from the community to work with one of our technicians to learn how to use and install the seat correctly, and we’re always happy to help folks connect to resources in their community as well across the state.”

Here is the most recent list of car seats approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics: Car Seats: Product Listing for 2022 – HealthyChildren.org

This U.S Department of Transportation has a car seat finder tool that also has tips on installing the car seat: Car Seat Finder Tool: Find the Right Car Seat | NHTSA If you are concerned about your car seat not meeting safety standards, you can reach out to OHSU to check the car seat.