Bumper Pads, Other Crib Products Pose Deadly Risk

<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">Baby crib bumpers might be adorable but they, and a number of other crib products may actually pose deadly risks in the nursery. According to The Wall Street Journal, pillows, blankets, mobiles that hang too low in the crib, even stuffed animals, might pose suffocation hazards to infants who are under a year old, citing the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

“There should be nothing in the crib but the baby,” says Rachel Moon, quoted the Journal. Moon is the head of the AAP’s task force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); SIDS is described as the death of a baby—after a full probe—that remains unexplained. Some 2,500 babies die from SIDS annually, down from 4,000 in 1992 which, said the Journal, is likely due to ongoing warnings about placing babies on their backs to sleep.

The Journal points out at that the change in numbers could also be due to how fatalities are classified. For instance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data said that from 1984 to 2004, infant accidental suffocation and strangulation deaths increased four-fold. Also, a study published last month in the journal Pediatrics, found that about 26 babies under the age of two are hurt each day in a crib-related injury, added the Journal.

Controversy surrounds baby bumpers. According to the Chicago Tribune, the nursery accessory was meant to cover the area between crib slats that were too far apart; however, the law changed in the 1970s to decrease the space so that babies would neither fall out nor get their heads stuck. Bumpers, say the Tribune, continue to be sold, but are marketed as decorations, with no warnings over infant suffocation.

The CPSC and the AAP urge against puffy bumpers, but have not advised against all bumper use, said the Journal. The CPSC also, said the Journal, has probed 28 infant deaths in which bumpers were present, but not blamed.

Consumer groups want guidance on thinner, mesh bumpers or tie less bumpers. “A lot of parents don’t want to put their babies in an empty crib,” says Catherine Hall, the founder of Mothers Investigating Safe Sleep Options for Newborns, a Boston-based nonprofit, quoted the Journal. “But there are no standards for crib bedding and no warning labels,” she added.

Scott Wolfson, CPSC spokesman, says the agency’s Safe Sleep Team is taking another look at the incidents and plans to talk to new styles in the future. “I will say this to parents—and I have two little ones at home—if you are going to use bumpers, they absolutely need to be tightly affixed, as the manufacturer suggests,” quoted the Journal.

While the agency is reluctant to take a stand, the AAP and others urge parents against using bumpers over suffocation risks, said the Chicago Tribune, which noted that Wolfson said that the Commission was also looking into suffocation risks with bumper pads as well as issues with blankets and pillows concerning the deaths.

The Tribune pointed out that 17 deaths were not investigated in which bumpers were present and, in many cases in which bumpers were present, but not implicated, the babies’ faces were pressed into the bumpers.

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