Study: "Crib bumpers are killing babies"

Along with blankets, pillows and stuffed animals, bumpers pose a risk to babies and should not be used in cribs.

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

They’re cute, make a crib look super cozy and are often included in crib bedding sets, but according to US researchers, crib bumpers are killing babies and should be banned.

At least 48 deaths from 1985 to 2012 can be attributed directly to crib bumpers, and in another 146 incidents where babies almost suffocated, choked or were strangled, crib bumpers were involved, according to the report in The Journal of Pediatrics.

What’s more, researchers say the numbers could be much higher. The records were pulled from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, but that organization relies on data from death certificates, where crib bumpers are often not listed.

The study’s senior author, Bradley T. Thach, professor emeritus of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, first documented crib-bumper deaths in 2007, while the study’s two other researchers are formerly of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Their findings have prompted them to call for a ban on the sale of crib bumpers in the United States. “Crib bumpers are killing kids,” Thach said in a press release. “Bumpers are more dangerous than we originally thought. The infant deaths we studied could have been prevented if the cribs were empty.”

According to the report, 32 of the 48 deaths studied were blamed on bumpers alone (the remaining 16 were due to a bumper plus something else, like a blanket or pillow, in the crib). Most of those infants died from suffocation because their noses and mouths were covered by a bumper pad or were caught between a bumper pad and a crib mattress. Researchers note the deaths occurred with both thick and thin bumpers, despite manufacturers advertising thin bumpers as being safer.

Currently in the US, crib bumper sales are banned in the state of Maryland and the city of Chicago. Both Health Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend against the use of crib bumpers, but they are not banned for sale in Canada.

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