States Consider Crib Bumper Bans

As we have written, <"">baby crib bumpers might be adorable but they may actually pose deadly risks in the nursery. Now, says WPRI, the state of Maryland is looking to take the dangerous children’s products off store shelves.

The products are used to keep babies from hitting their delicate heads against crib slats, but some studies indicate that the babies can actually roll onto the cushioning where they suffocate. In some cases, babies have choked on the bumper’s strings, said WPRI.

Crib bumpers were among a number of products that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently said might pose suffocation hazards to infants under the age of one year. The CPSC has made crib safety its top priority, going so far as to ban dangerous drop-side cribs and issuing a warning to parents to not use “sleep positioners,” said WPRI, which noted that, now, the agency is eyeing crib bumpers.

Controversy surrounds baby bumpers. According to a recent Chicago Tribune report, 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 Wall Street Journal previously. The CPSC also, said the Journal, has probed 28 infant deaths in which bumpers were present, but not blamed.

The CPSC advised Call 12 For Action that in 2010, a study conducted by one of its scientists found no association between certain crib fatalities and crib bumpers; however, a follow-up review found that the findings were based on data that lacked some significant details about some deaths from many years prior, said WPRI. In response to this finding, the CPSC has a new team of external scientists reviewing the issue of crib bumper safety.

Maryland’s state Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, is also considering recommendations from a group of pediatricians to pull baby bumpers from stores, regardless of the CSPS’s findings. “We certainly don’t advise that anybody use them,” said Dr. Sharfstein this week. “The question comes up, well, why should they be sold?” quoted WPRI. The ban would not prevent parents from using crib bumpers in their possession or from driving out-of-state to purchase the dangerous items

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,” said 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.

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. “There should be nothing in the crib but the baby,” said Rachel Moon previously, 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.

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