Crib Bumpers Face CPSC Scrutiny

Dr. Bradley Thach, professor of pediatrics at Washington University has long been discussing the <"">dangers of crib bumpers, said Saint Louis today. Three years ago, Dr. Thatch published an article about the potentially defective product saying that crib bumpers had the “potential to upend nurseries across the nation, and perhaps save some lives too,” quoted Saint Louis Today.

Dr. Thach’s review of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data from 1995 to 2005 revealed a number of infant deaths from crib bumpers, said St. Louis Today. Dr. Thach and discovered 27 suffocation deaths that involved crib bumpers, wrote Saint Louis Today, clearly a product liability issue.

The CPSC, at first, disregarded the findings; however, following consumer advocate and media attention, the agency is taking another look at crib bumpers as part of a larger crackdown on products geared to infant sleep, according to Saint Louis Today. Not unexpectedly, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association disagrees with Thach’s findings, which were part of his research conducted at Children’s Hospital, noted Saint Louis Today.

The CPSC described its move as a “re-examination,” said Time Magazine’s Healthland, which noted that in the decade from 1990 to 2010, the agency discovered that 52 infant deaths were linked to bumpers, although the extent of the product’s impact remains unknown. “The bumper-related deaths are really tragic and really complicated,” said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson, quoted Heartland. “We’re definitely taking a fresh look at the issue,” Wolfson added.

Wolfson said that the agency will be, “taking a different look and asking different questions,” to ascertain the role of crib bumpers in infant deaths, noting that linking fatalities to the products can be challenging given the lack of information in police and coroner reports, said Heartland. “We have not been to the point of being able to attribute crib bumpers to a cause of death but we are going back into old cases to see if that determination has changed,” said Wolfson.

Not quite half of the 52 deaths—the CPSC said there were 24 in all—were listed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or crib failure, said Heartland, which noted that the remaining 28 were the result of suffocation or strangulation. Most deaths indicated bedding as factors on official reports, explained Heartland; the CPSC’s “White Paper – Unsafe Sleep Settings” dated July 2010, indicates that the details were “minimal” in 18 deaths attributed to suffocation/strangulation.

In most cases in which there was information, there were two issues believed to have been involved: Babies were found on their stomachs (which is against prevailing professional recommendations) and there existed “other mitigating factors, such as crib bumpers,” said Heartland. Babies were found, said officials, “wedged between pillow and bumper pad,” “caught between blanket and bumper pad,” and “wedged between bumper pad and mattress,” quoted Heartland.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents remove drib bumpers when babies are able to pull themselves up; however the CPSC, despite consumer outcry, is not advising parents against using crib bumpers, but has advised parents against using infant sleep positioners and has banned drop-side crib sales, said Healthland.

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