The Academy is warning of the potential dangers weighted infant sleep products pose to infants and is calling for stronger federal oversight and action.
On all issues impacting child health, the Academy’s advocacy with the three branches of federal government is guided by its evidence-based policy. Its most recent recommendations for safe sleep published in 2022 outline how weighted products such as swaddles, blankets and sleepers are unsafe for infants and advise they not be placed on or near a sleeping infant.
Calling for action
Although available evidence does not indicate that weighted infant sleep products are safe for infants, they remain on the market and in families’ homes. In addition, the products are not required to meet any federal safety standards. The Academy, therefore, is urging regulators and policymakers to take immediate action to protect infants and ensure safe sleep environments.
The AAP recently outlined its concerns with weighted infant sleep products in a letter to leadership at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and ASTM International, which was first reported by NBC News.
Specifically, the AAP opposes the development of a voluntary safety standard for these products, saying it would send an incorrect message to families that the products are safe.
The letter also explains how it is hypothesized that an infant’s impaired arousal may contribute to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and a product that decreases arousal may increase the risk of SIDS.
The AAP calls for a “precautionary approach to these and other novel infant sleep products,” emphasizing the need to avoid what happened with inclined sleep products, which were associated with more than 100 infant deaths that could have been prevented if the products were not kept on the consumer market.
“Waiting for the emergence of confirmatory data about these concerns while these products proliferate is an unacceptable outcome when each of those data points will be a family whose lives are forever marked by unfathomable tragedy of their infant dying from a sleep-related death,” the letter states.
Reform in approach
When it comes to product safety, the Academy and its injury prevention experts have been outspoken on the need for a proactive approach to keep children safe, rather than a reactive one.
If a product is sold on store shelves, families expect that it has been tested thoroughly and meets mandatory safety requirements. This, however, is not the case. Potentially dangerous and novel products continue to be sold, and concerns may not be raised until harmful consequences to child health are documented.
Like all child health issues, injury prevention requires a multipronged, coordinated and sustained advocacy effort.
AAP experts continue to speak up through the media to reach parents and families with critical safety messages, and the Academy urges government leaders to push for needed change — all driven by AAP policy recommendations.
Beyond calling for vigorous oversight from regulatory agencies, the AAP will continue to work with President Joe Biden’s administration and Congress to advance laws and policies that protect infants and children from dangerous products.
10 advocacy tips during August recess
While Congress is on recess in August, there still are plenty of opportunities to hone your advocacy skills or learn about a new advocacy tactic. Explore the AAP’s digital advocacy guide at https://aap.org/advocacyguide (login required) and learn how to be an effective child health advocate.
Here are 10 quick ideas from the guide to get you started.
- Put your knowledge of the federal government to the test with the guide’s civics 101 trivia game.
- Learn how to deliver a powerful advocacy elevator speech and use the animated timer to practice your own.
- Craft an effective advocacy message by building out your own message map.
- Learn the do’s and don’ts of how to tell a compelling advocacy story.
- Read about the important role of coalitions in helping to support an advocacy goal.
- Interested in trying your hand at writing an op-ed on a child health issue you care about? Use the op-ed brainstorm tool to get started.
- Build and maintain relationships with your legislative offices. Reach out to your lawmakers’ district offices and introduce yourself as a child health expert in the community.
- Set up Google news alerts for child health issues you care about to stay up to date on key developments.
- Sign up for advocacy action alerts from the Academy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (AAP membership required).
- Use the guide’s Advocacy Action Planning tool to develop your own advocacy plan and chart next steps.
Medicaid unwinding resources
Visit https://aap.org/MedicaidUnwinding for the latest resources and information on the Medicaid unwinding. As states review their Medicaid programs and determine who is still eligible, the Academy is undertaking extensive advocacy efforts to ensure children do not lose their health care coverage and equipping pediatricians with tools to help inform families.
Celebrating two AAP-championed laws
AAP President Sandy L. Chung, M.D., FAAP, recently attended a White House event celebrating the PUMP Act and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act becoming law. The PUMP Act expands workplace protections to an additional 9 million workers, ensuring nursing workers have adequate break time and a private space to pump. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act allows pregnant workers to ask for workplace accommodations, such as closer parking and flexible hours. Both AAP-championed bills advanced with bipartisan support.