Consumer Reports Retracts Car Seat Study

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Washington, DC (CBS) - In a stunning reversal, Consumer Reports magazine has withdrawn a widely publicized warning which has alleged that most child safety seats are unsafe in side impact collisions.

The February edition of Consumer Reports claims that 10 of 12 infant safety seats tested failed in 38 mile-per-hour side-impact collisions. But federal safety regulators have questioned the validity of the tests, and now Consumer Reports has agreed to withdraw the alert until more testing can be completed.

Sources tell CBS News that the side-impact tests conducted by Consumer Reports were mistakenly done at exceedingly high speeds — perhaps more than 70 miles per hour. At that speed, regulators say, the seats would be expected to fail.

Federal officials have been questioning the Consumer Reports results for weeks, but only found damaging evidence of a mistake in the testing this past weekend. Sources say government crash testers evaluated the same 12 child seats, running tests at the proper 38 miles-per-hour speed, and all of the seats "passed with flying colors."

In a statement, Consumer Reports said it has now decided to "suspend judgments on the merits of individual products (infant seats) until new testing has been completed and the report re-published."

By Bob Orr © MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.