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Crib Bumpers Linked to Infant Deaths

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A new article in The Journal of Pediatrics (November 24, 2015) reports that the number of infant deaths and injuries attributed to crib bumpers have jumped in the past seven years, compared with the previous 20 years. Researchers are calling for a nationwide ban on the crib accessory.

The study researchers analyzed causes of infant deaths, and discovered that crib bumpers were the sole cause of harm in a majority of incidents–not blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals.

“Crib bumpers are killing kids,” said senior author Bradley T. Thach, MD, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the author of a landmark study published in 2007 that first documented crib-bumper deaths. “Bumpers are more dangerous than we originally thought. The infant deaths we studied could have been prevented if the cribs were empty.”

Between 1985 and 2012, 48 infant deaths were specifically attributed to crib bumpers, and 146 infants nearly suffocated, choked, or were strangled by bumpers. Most of the infants died due to suffocation because their noses and mouths were covered by a bumper, or were between a bumper and a crib mattress–no other objects were near the infants’ faces.

The state of Maryland and the city of Chicago have already banned the sale of crib bumpers. The researchers recommend that the rest of the nation follow suit. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Canadian Pediatric Society, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended against the use of crib bumpers.

And yet, bumpers remain popular.

“A ban on crib bumpers would reinforce the message that no soft bedding of any kind should be placed inside a baby’s crib,” Thach said. “There is one sure-fire way to prevent infant deaths from crib bumpers: Don’t use them, ever.”

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