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Crib Bumper Pads Too Risky for Baby

27 infants died over past 20 years due to suffocation, strangulation

MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of accidental injury or death associated with crib bumper pads outweigh their benefits, according to pediatric researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Many people use bumper pads in cribs and bassinets to protect babies from injury. But the researchers reviewed U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data from 1985-2005 and found 27 accidental deaths of children, ages one month to two years old, attributed to suffocation or strangulation by bumper pads or their ties. The researchers also found 25 non-fatal injuries related to bumper pads.

Formal investigations revealed that 11 infants likely suffocated when their face rested against the bumper pad, 13 infants died when they became wedged between the bumper pad and another object, and three infants died from strangulation by a bumper tie.

The study was published in the September issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

"Many infants lack the motor development needed to free themselves when they become wedged between the bumper pad and another surface," Dr. Bradley Thach, professor of pediatrics and staff physician at St. Louis Children's Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

"They are likely to suffocate, because they are re-breathing expired air or their nose and mouth are compressed," said Thach, who researches infant apnea and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Both soft and firm bumper pads are dangerous.

"If the pads are too soft, the baby's nose or face can get pressed up against it, and the baby suffocates. If they are too firm, the baby can climb up on the pads and fall out of the crib," Thach said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers advice on crib safety.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, news release, October 2007

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