The holidays are fast-approaching, and baby gifts are especially popular for those who are expecting. Baby bedding – including cribs, sheets and crib lining – is a $50 million annual industry.
But concerns over crib safety have been mounting in recent years. It’s what led to the recall and eventual ban of drop-side cribs in 2011 after indications these products posed risk of serious injury and death to infants and toddlers. In more recent years, the focus has shifted to “crib bumpers,” the soft, pillow-like lining intended for use inside cribs that poses a risk of suffocation and strangulation for infants.
They are displayed prominently in stores in cute designs, intended to coordinate with the overall theme of the room. About 200,000 are sold annually. There have been several studies and recalls and lawsuits over the last four years, but still, they remain on sale.
Now, a study published in the newest edition of the Journal of Pediatrics indicates crib bumpers were responsible for at least 77 deaths between 1985 and 2012. Of those, nearly 70 percent involved suffocation by the crib bumper alone, while the remaining 30 percent involved the baby getting wedged between the bumper and another object.
Worse, there were three times more crib bumper deaths reported in the last seven years than in the three previous time periods.
Researchers speculated this could be at least partially due to the fact that there is an increase in reporting on the issue by state health departments. There may also be a higher awareness among doctors. But the bottom line, researchers reported, is that voluntary industry standards and public health recommendations have not been enough to reduce the number of deaths. In the end, whatever benefits crib bumpers offer don’t outweigh the risks.
In fact, crib bumpers were designed and marketed at a time when many older-style cribs had slats that were far enough apart that infants suffered a risk of injury or strangulation by getting their heads stuck in between the bars. Today, however, all cribs sold in the U.S. require the slates to be less than 2 and 3/8 inches apart – making it virtually impossible for an infant’s head to fit through.
In spite of the increase in infant fatalities, there are no federal regulations that restrict the use of crib bumpers. There are some voluntary regulations. For example, companies no longer sell bumpers that are plastic, and those that are fabric are much thinner than they used to be. However, they are such a major problem that some government agencies have been taking matters into their own hands. For example, Maryland and also the City of Chicago have banned sales of crib bumpers in stores that operate there.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly warned parents against using them – and that includes the newer mesh “breathable” bumpers. The product was placed on the “13 dangerous baby products to avoid” list by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The author of the most recent study, himself a pediatrician and professor, insists more must be done. Parents walk into a store and see these items sold regularly.
“People would assume if they weren’t safe, stores wouldn’t be selling them,” he said.
As our Port St. Lucie product liability lawyers know well, that’s not true in this case, or for a myriad of other dangers and defective products currently on the market.
When death or serious injury happens after a product has been used as intended or in a way that is reasonably foreseeable, plaintiffs may be able to sue the designer, manufacturer and/or distributor of the product on grounds of strict liability, breach of warranty or negligence.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Stop Using Crib Bumpers, Doctors Say, Dec. 1, 2015, By Jen Christensen, CNN.com
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