Product safety researchers call for ban on crib bumpers
For babies who move around a lot at night, some new parents may purchase a padded bumper that goes around the edge of the crib to keep their little ones from hurting themselves. But according to a new review of product safety data, the products pose a serious suffocation hazard.
“Parents walk into a store to buy a crib and they see the cribs with bumpers in them and they say, 'Well, if they weren’t safe, they wouldn’t be selling them.' But that’s not correct,” said Dr. Bradley Thach, professor emeritus of Washington University and a longtime researcher for infant safety.
The latest data review by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Washington University found a total of 77 deaths attributable to crib bumpers between 1985 and 2012. In most cases, babies were found suffocated with their faces pressed into the bumper, or with their heads wedged between the bumper and crib’s mattress. Studies over the last seven years show a threefold increase in bumper-related deaths, which suggests earlier cases were underreported, Thach said.
The study’s authors did not mince words with their recommendation to the CPSC:
“Ban traditional crib bumpers for sale in the US quickly,” they wrote. “Preventing bumper deaths and injuries will only be possible if traditional bumpers are removed from the marketplace at the national level.”
Since Washington University’s researchers published their first set of findings in 2007, Chicago and Maryland banned the sale of bumper pads. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against their use since 2008. But the CPSC has not made moves to establish a federal rule regarding padded bumpers since 2013.
“The ball is now in the court of the CPSC,” said Thach.
Advocates for reducing infant deaths hope that a new study demonstrating the danger of crib bumpers will take them off the shelves for good.
Lori Behrens of SIDS Resources’ Missouri chapter said the findings will help back up what she always tells new parents:
“The safest way for babies to sleep is alone, on their backs and in a crib or a pack and play but without anything extra. No bumper pads, no pillows, no stuffed animals,” Behrens said.
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