Despite mounting evidence that padded crib bumpers, designed to keep a baby from hitting her head on crib slats, are a suffocation hazard and may be linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, in September 2016, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff released an analysis of child deaths associated with crib bumpers that was scientifically questionable, and inappropriately came to the conclusion that it should not take any action on these products.
American Association of Pediatrics Issues Policy Statement on Crib Bumpers
Multiple safe sleep experts, including Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP , lead author of American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) October 24, 2016 policy statement, “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths,” reviewed the CPSC’s evidence and found the CPSC’s analysis and conclusion flawed. “Because there is no evidence that bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides prevent injury in young infants, and because there is a potential for suffocation, entrapment and strangulation, these products are not recommended,” the AAP’s statement concluded.
American Journal of Pediatrics Article Reaffirms Crib Bumper Danger
In November 2016 the American Journal of Pediatrics (AJP) published an article written by Bradley T. Thatch, M.D., George W. Rutherford, Jr., M.S., and Kathleen Harris, of the Washington Department of Pediatrics, St. Louis, Missouri titled “Deaths and Injuries Attributed to Infant Crib Bumper Pads.” Analyzing the CPSC’s database for deaths related to crib bumpers for the years 1985 to 2005, the authors found that, between those years, 27 children from 1 month to 2 years old died from suffocating or strangling related to crib bumpers. The authors also searched other Consumer Product Safety Commission databases for crib-related injuries that potentially might have been prevented by bumpers, and examined 22 retail crib bumpers and described features that could be hazardous. “These findings suggest that crib and bassinet bumpers are dangerous. Their use prevents only minor injuries. Because bumpers can cause death, we conclude that they should not be used,” the article stated.
CPSC Delays Banning Crib Bumpers
Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission acknowledges the danger that crib bumpers pose, it has stopped short of banning the products, and instead places the responsibility on the parent or caregiver rather than the manufacturer. “We strongly warn parents and caregivers not to use padded crib bumpers. . . We strongly believe that the risk of death from padded crib bumpers far outweighs any purported benefits. When it comes to any child’s safe sleep environment, bare really is best,” the agency stated. Despite sufficient evidence to ban them from the marketplace now, the agency has put off action for several years. The CPSC has indicated that it will begin developing a performance standard for crib bumpers in 2018, which many consider an unnecessary delay.