Infant Deaths Caused by Crib Bumpers – Safety Agency Needs Stricter Investigation Standards

Crib bumper pads have been the topic of debate for several years. While some claim that they are perfectly safe and harmless, others claim that crib bumper pads put infants at risk for suffocating in their cribs. A recent report that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has not taken adequate steps to investigate crib bumper pads calls into question the product’s safety.

Over the years, the CPSC has investigated allegations of babies’ dying as a result of suffocating in their crib bumpers. However, it now seems that at least 17 of those cases were not fully investigated by the CPSC. While the agency did look into the infant deaths, it determined that in at least 12 of the 17 cases it was difficult to clearly implicate the crib bumper pads in the infants’ deaths. The CPSC instead suggested that the deaths were caused not by the defective bumper pad design, but instead were the result of infants suffocating from pillows or blankets that were also in the cribs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a much firmer stance than the CPSC, going so far as to urge parents not to use crib bumper pads because of the risk of suffocation. These claims have been supported in autopsy reports conducted by medical examiners and coroners, who have affirmed that bumper pads were involved in the infant suffocations. In light of all this evidence, the CPSC must now decide whether it is safe for parents to continue using this crib product.

The original purpose of crib bumper pads was to protect children from falling out of their cribs. The product was designed in order to cover the space between crib slats and protect the infant in the crib. However, the risk of babies falling out of their cribs all but disappeared in the 1970s, when federal regulations changed, requiring less space between crib slats so that babies could not fall out.

However, despite the diminished need for crib bumper pads, they are still widely bought and sold, often as part of crib bedding sets. The infant bedding industry continues to maintain that its product’s design is not defective, but is quiet safe for infant use. This assertion is based not on the CPSC standards, but on the studies conducted by the bedding industry themselves, a fact which further casts suspicion on the product’s safety.

In recent years, reports of infant deaths from the crib bumpers has further undermined the bedding industry’s safety claims. In 2007, a two month-old baby was found dead in her crib, her face pressed against the bumper pad and one of her arms wedged between the pad and crib slat. In 2008, a pediatrician published a report stating that crib pads were the cause of at least 27 infant deaths in the last two decades, a much higher number than the CPSC report would indicate.

Likewise, the National Center for Child Death Review has cautioned that bumper pads might have an even greater role in infant deaths than the federal safety agency believes. In just the past few years, the federally funded organization has received reports of 14 separate cases where a crib bumper pad played a significant role in infant suffocation.

While perhaps it is difficult to determine the exact culprit in many infant suffocations, many parties agree that in many instances crib bumper pads at least play a significant role in the infants’ deaths. The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics has adopted this stance, stating that federal regulators don’t need to base their safety considerations on a direct cause and effect relationship, but rather on whether a strong association exists between bumper pads and suffocation. When our children’s lives are at stake, a strong association is all we need to change our buying habits.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois birth injury lawsuits for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and its surrounding areas, including Hinsdale, Hoffman Estates, South Holland, Orland Park, and Rosemont.

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