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Crib Bumper Pads Are Dangerous

Summary and Comment |
November 14, 2007

Crib Bumper Pads Are Dangerous

  1. Cornelius W. Van Niel, MD

The risk for strangulation or death from bumper pads in cribs outweighs the uncertain benefit.

  1. Cornelius W. Van Niel, MD

The Back to Sleep campaign has markedly reduced the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but the overall safety of infant sleep environments still doesn’t receive appropriate attention. Bumper pads are popular crib accessories purchased by caregivers for protective or aesthetic reasons. To examine the risks associated with bumper pads, investigators searched U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission databases for crib-related deaths and injuries in infants younger than 6 months.

From 1985 through 2005, 27 infant deaths by suffocation or strangulation were associated with bumper pads: 23 in cribs and 4 in padded bassinettes. Death-scene investigation attributed 11 deaths to the infant’s face pressed against a bumper pad, 13 deaths to the infant wedged between the bumper pad and another object, and 3 deaths to a bumper pad tie caught around the infant’s neck. From 2000 through 2004, 25 nonfatal crib-related injuries were reported (including closed head injuries, extremity fractures, contusions, abrasions, and strains). However, most reports did not specify whether bumper pads were in place at the time of injury.

Comment

This report likely represents an underestimate of crib-related deaths and injuries because reporting of such incidents is incomplete. The AAP Task Force on SIDS (Pediatrics 2005; 116:1245) recommends that bumper pads be “thin, firm, well-secured, and not pillow-like,” but the authors’ review of retail bumper pads led them to suggest that even firm bumper pads may cause entrapment of an infant’s head and suffocation. They conclude that bumper pads should not be used in cribs. Pediatricians should let parents know the uncertain benefits and potential dangers of crib bumper pads.

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