Crib bumpers may cause deaths and should never be used! A recent study in The Journal Pediatrics looked at the incidence of crib bumper related deaths from 1985- 2012. The authors reviewed data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and found that there were 3 times more bumper deaths reported in the last 7 years than the 3 previous time periods that had been reviewed. Bumper pads caused 48 suffocations of which “ 67% were due to the bumper alone and not clutter in the crib, and 33% of the deaths were due to wedgings between a bumper and another object in the crib”. An additional 146 infants had sustained injuries from the bumpers, which included choking on the bumper ties or near suffocation.
The study also looked at the number of CPSC reported deaths compared with those from the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, 2008- 2011. When using that data the total number of deaths increased to 77.
While bumpers had been marketed to prevent a baby from falling out of a crib or to keep a baby’s arms or legs from getting stuck between the crib rails, in reality they cause injury and death. In 2012 a national standard was revised which required that crib bumpers must be 2 inches in thickness or less. At that time the thought was that “thinner bumpers” would be less likely to cause suffocation. But the recent study found that 3 of the deaths occurred in cribs that had thinner bumpers.
According to Dr. N.J. Scheers, the lead author in the study, “these deaths are entirely preventable” if bumpers were not used and were not widely available. But when flipping through a baby store catalog, or even shopping for cribs, parents and grandparents) see beautiful cribs that are adorned with bumper pads!! So, if they cause death why are they being sold? Mixed messages are very hard for parents to understand. Concrete recommendations and guidelines save lives.
Several cities and states have already banned the sale of crib bumpers and the CPSC is currently in the process of publishing new recommendations on how crib bumpers should be regulated.
I don’t see the need for any more studies to show that bumper pads may cause deaths and injuries. Clear guidelines from the AAP state, “bare cribs are the best” and “all infants should be put to sleep on their backs”. Save your money and your baby’s life…no bumpers.