Crib Bumber Safety

Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 3:28pm

The CPSC investigates deaths and injuries to babies that may be related to crib bumper pads.

Fluffy crib bumper pads may make a baby's nursery look adorable but safety experts have long warned they're a potential suffocation risk for young babies. Now the Consumer Product Safety Commission has re-launched an investigation into reported deaths and injuries related to bumper pads.

Carole Higgins is passionate about crib safety, educating anyone who'll listen about safe sleep positions and other ways to reduce the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

That passion comes from a painful past. Her grandson, Michael, died of SIDS when he was just 3 months old.

Grandmother Carole Higgins says "this is such an unbelievable loss."

Since Michael's death 17 years ago, Higgins has been active in SIDS prevention efforts and says crib bumper pads that are often sold in sets matching baby's bedding are suffocation hazards.

Carole says "there's just no purpose for them other than to look good."

Infant safety experts agree and say newborns don't have the motor strength to move their heads away from obstructions.

Dr. Lois Lee of Children's Hospital Boston says "if their face gets wedged between a crib bumper and the mattress, there is some potential that they could suffocate and die."

Now the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is taking a closer look at the potential risks of bumpers.

Nychelle Fleming of the Consumer Product Safety Commission says "the CPSC's position has been to avoid pillowy, billowy bumpers."

A 2010 CPSC report on crib bumpers revealed 10 cases where police and coroner's reports showed babies were found "suffocated in a corner against the bumper pad or with their face obstructed by a bumper pad."

But it's difficult to pin those deaths on bumpers because the babies were also found faced down on their stomachs, a known significant risk factor for SIDS.

Nychelle says “that's kind of what makes this a complex issue is the fact that additional factors were also included such as bedding, pillows, especially quilts and comforters."

The commission has re-launched an investigation into those deaths to see whether bumpers currently on the market deserve stronger warnings.

While national chain "Babies R Us" sells bumper pads, a statement from the company says it's required its manufacturers to move from "pillowy" bumpers to firmer ones.

Meanwhile Carole Higgins is adamant that the cutest thing in the crib, and only thing in the crib, should be the baby.

The CPSC will also review the safety of bassinets and other infant products in the coming months.

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