New study shows crib bumpers causing more infant deaths in recent years

By Tom Nordlie • Published: March 7th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’ve been in a baby’s nursery lately, you might be familiar with crib bumpers.

These long, narrow cushions attach to the inside of a crib, covering the bars.

They’re supposed to protect babies from painful collisions with hard surfaces.

That sounds logical, and many crib bumpers are beautifully decorated, making them even more appealing.

However, the truth is that crib bumpers can be dangerous.

Babies can suffocate if their faces press into a soft surface that impairs breathing. That’s how most crib-bumper deaths occur.

This warning has circulated for years, and a study published recently in The Journal of Pediatrics underscores it.

The authors examined nationwide data collected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, covering 48 reported deaths blamed on crib bumpers from 1985 through 2012.

Almost half of those deaths – 23 of them – occurred between 2006 and 2012.

The researchers couldn’t be sure if this sudden increase represented a true upsurge in fatalities, or if the numbers rose due to improved diagnostics and reporting related to this issue.

Apart from the fatalities, researchers identified 149 cases from 1990 through 2012 where crib bumpers were blamed for injuries and nearly fatal mishaps.

Nonetheless, crib bumpers are still widely available in the U.S.

The federal government hasn’t established any product-specific safety regulations for these items, either.

So, it’s up to parents to recognize this counterintuitive hazard and proceed accordingly.

Although one could argue that crib bumpers pose only a small risk, it’s a completely unnecessary and preventable risk.

Considering all the health and safety threats that parents can’t control, in a way it’s almost a relief to confront one that’s so easy to avoid.