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WHY WE DON'T PUT BABIES IN CARS WITHOUT CAR SEATS ANYMORE

Susan P. Baker, MPH, ScD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Injury Research and Policy

Dr. Baker's research in injury prevention and driving safety has resulted in national passenger protection laws, saving thousands of lives, particularly those of infants and children. Dr. Baker says, "Without U.S. investment in public health research, things simply won't happen. We need a strong health department and public health workforce if we are going to do right by Americans."

Susan BakerIt's hard to believe, but until the early 1980s there were no laws requiring parents to have child safety seats in their cars. It was the work of Susan Baker, MPH, ScD, that changed the way Americans transport their children in cars after her research showed that infants up to six months old were needlessly dying in motor vehicle crashes. This research spurred a movement across the U.S. to pass laws that now protect and save lives, particularly for babies and children.

Today, Baker continues her research on road safety, with her eye on putting research into action through policy changes at both the national and state levels. Together with her colleagues in research, she is looking for answers that will lead to a reduction and elimination of alcohol use by drivers and a shift away from excessive speeding, a significant problem in this country and is in fact, the main cause of injury and death resulting from car crashes.

Baker is very concerned about the current U.S. investment in public health research. She says, "Individuals on the brink of their career will ‘follow the money,' and if the country doesn't ensure jobs and a stable workforce in public health, we will lose the next generation of public health researchers." And Baker can attest to the importance of training young researchers — she notes that her greatest accomplishment has been her effect on training so many promising and successful leaders in public health in the U.S. and abroad, and seeing the impact of their work.