WEDNESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Parents should not use commercially available "infant sleep positioners" unless they are prescribed by their pediatrician. The devices have been associated with suffocation deaths, U.S. health officials warn.
The U.S. Centers of Disease and Prevention released a report detailing one such case and including findings from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has documented 13 deaths linked to infant sleep positioners in a 13-year period.
"Infant sleep positioners pose a serious suffocation risk to babies," U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswomen Michelle Bolek said.
"[The] FDA is not aware of any evidence showing that the benefits of infant sleep positioners outweigh the risk of suffocation and [the] FDA has never cleared an infant sleep positioner to prevent or reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome," Bolek said.
In several of these deaths, infants were placed on their side with a sleep positioner in misguided attempts to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the report published in the Nov. 23 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Other deaths resulted when positioners were used to prevent reflux, keep the baby's head elevated, prevent the baby from rolling over and prevent flattening of the baby's skull.
These deaths occurred despite labeling on the device that cautioned: "Once your baby begins to move around during sleep, the sleep positioner should no longer be used," or, "This product is to be used if your pediatrician has recommended side sleeping for your baby," the report noted.
The devices have only a limited use, Bolek said. "Very few infants benefit from the use of infant sleep positioners," she said.
"Using an infant sleep positioner would be at the discretion of a health care professional for a specific medical conditio
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