Researchers are calling for a nationwide ban on crib bumpers after finding they are linked to a growing number of infant deaths.
Twenty-three deaths related to crib bumpers were reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from 2006 through 2012, according to the report “Crib Bumpers Continue to Cause Infant Deaths: A Need for a New Preventive Approach.” Eight deaths were reported in each of the three previous seven-year periods.
“Crib bumpers are killing kids,” senior author Bradley T. Thach, M.D., professor emeritus of pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine, said in a news release. “Bumpers are more dangerous than we originally thought. The infant deaths we studied could have been prevented if the cribs were empty.”
There were 48 deaths related to crib bumpers from 1985 through 2012, most due to suffocation, according to a review of CPSC data detailed in the report (Scheers NJ, et al. J Pediatr. Nov. 24, 2015, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022347615012846). In an additional 146 incidents, babies nearly suffocated or choked.
Researchers acknowledged the increase over previous years could be due in part to better reporting to CPSC but also said they believe the actual figures may be higher as they found additional bumper-related deaths when reviewing data from the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths.
The Academy, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all recommend against bumpers, but there are no federal regulations regarding their use. Researchers, two of whom previously worked for the CPSC, said that agency would be responsible for instituting a ban, but it has limited resources.
“A ban on crib bumpers would reinforce the message that no soft bedding of any kind should be placed inside a baby's crib,” Dr. Thach said. "There is one sure-fire way to prevent infant deaths from crib bumpers: Don't use them, ever."