If dozens of babies were dying and experts attributed it to a single baby product, most citizens would expect the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC) to issue mandatory regulations against it, but that’s not what’s happening.
A recent Washington Post investigation has revealed that the CPSC is at a crossroads when it comes to deciding what to do about crib bumpers, the popular baby product that dozens of studies have linked to infant deaths. A small group of scientists at the CPSC does not believe padded crib bumpers have played a role in the infant deaths studied. As a result the agency has not regulated crib bumpers, despite warnings from pediatricians and safety advocates at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. The American Academy of Pediatrics also warns parents against the use of crib bumpers in its sleep guidelines.
Crib bumpers were originally designed to prevent babies’ arms and legs from getting caught between the slats of a crib. But over time, researchers found that many sleep deaths were being attributed to suffocation as babies pushed their faces into the bumper. Of the estimated 3,500 infant deaths that occur during sleep each year in the United States, about a quarter are blamed on accidental suffocation.
Just a few months ago, the CSPS was criticized for stalling its efforts to warn the public about inclined infant sleepers. The agency’s mission is supposed to be to protect the public from dangerous products.
The CSPC is planning to invite outside experts to a public meeting early next year to discuss the issue. In the meantime, parents are left wondering whether all those crib bumpers currently on the market are actually safe. Walmart and Target have stopped selling crib bumpers, but many retailers still stock shelves with them.
It’s up to each parent to decide what feels right for their family, but many experts are asking parents to use extreme caution forgo the use of crib bumpers until further research is debated and analyzed.