CPSC Has Not Investigated 17 Deaths Involving Crib Bumpers

ss_09016aThe Consumer Product Safety Commission failed to investigate 17 cases of infant deaths when they were fully-aware that crib bumper pads, a popular nursery product, played roles in the fatalities, reports today’s Chicago Tribune.

According to the Tribune’s breaking news report, the CPSC is currently deciding whether bumpers pose suffocation risks, but have disturbingly avoided investigating all of deaths they have on record involving the padded crib liners. Medical examiners and coroners have confirmed that bumper pads were indeed involved in the aforementioned 17 deaths by suffocation the agency has on file.

The CPSC claims these deaths cannot be entirely attributed to bumpers because of other items that may have been in the child’s crib at the time of death. According to the Tribune, Commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said officials are examining if there is a scientific link between bumper pads and suffocations, or if factors such as blankets, pillows or medical issues played a primary role in the babies’ deaths.

 One might argue the defensiveness of an agency, who claims it’s mission is to protect consumers from hazardous products, seems strangely lacksidaisical regarding this matter, despite urging from the  American Academy of Pediatrics and other parental safety groups to take a firmer stance. 

“If the baby was found with the face smushed up against the bumper pad, then I don’t understand the relevance of the pillow or the blanket,” said Dr. Rachel Moon, a pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center and researcher for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While identifying bumpers as the sole cause of death in these instances may be difficult, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? Dr. Marion Burton, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, seems to think so. He feels, “federal regulators don’t need to base safety considerations on ’cause and effect,’ a high bar to meet scientifically, when there is a strong association between bumper pads and suffocations.”

He concludes, “It’s a potential hazard, so don’t have it in the child’s environment. I can’t think of any reason to have them.”

Do you think it’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid bumpers entirely or do you feel the popular products cannot be fully blamed in these cases and a deeper investigation is warranted? Tell us where you stand.

Be sure to keep up with the very latest on recalls with our helpful Recall Finder on Parents.com.

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  1. by Brittnay

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:13 am

    If bumper pads caused suffocation dont you think that they would not be able to sell them. im not saying that it doesnt happen, but if they are so worried about it than why continue to sell them? I mean they make cribs so babies heads cant get in between the bars! i think if it was such a big deal than how about not sell them or manufacturer them anymore!

  2. by Tiffany

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I have used crib bumpers for both of my girls, and neither one of them had any problems with it. As a matter of fact, the crib bumper, if anything, saved my daughters from getting their arms/legs caught in the bars. I am not against crib bumpers, but if they are causing infant deaths, then remove them from production and recall ALL bumpers. I believe tonight I will be taking the bumper out of my 7 month old’s crib, just to be on the safe side.

  3. by Erica

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I saw a segment on the doctors about this. Dr Sears recommended the mesh breathable bumper pads. I quit using my pad and bought a mesh one. Sure enough the next morning my sons face was up against the pad. I wonder what would have happened with the old pad. There are safer options out there

  4. by sarah

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I recently put my 11 month old daughters padded bumper back on her crib. She rolls and tosses during sleep and hits the crib so hard that she wakes up screaming. She even had a black eye from when she rolled from her back to her tummy and smacked the boards with her face. Yes, why sell them if death is caused by it? We sleep better thinking we are preventing broken somethings. So why market the product? Can I get reimbursed for the purchase?

  5. by Lynn

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Ok, but under some of the rationale behind why sell them if they cause deaths- the same could be applied to cigarettes, alcohol, even cars for that matter. I think the point here is that there is an INCREASED chance of death by using some of the standard crib bumpers- I don’t think they are saying “they cause death”- but again- giving my son a knife to play with might not cut him (if I’m lucky) but well, I’m not taking that chance. They are a cute decorative item, so in the grand scheme of things, making a crib look cute isn’t worth the chance that I might be taking. I also don’t think I’ll ever be qualified enough to disput the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, they are the experts and do this for a living- so I feel pretty good that if they are making a recommendation- I’m going to at least know they’ve put time, energy, money and research into it.

  6. by jolynn

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I used to have the cushion crib bumber pad in my crib and I used to worry, then I purchased the breathable crip bumper and it was the best purchase ever…I love it and I don’t worry about suffocation. It still blocks her from getting her legs stuck inbetween the bars, and completely collapses so she can’t use it to climb out of he crib…if u r worried I would purchase the breathable crib bumper.

  7. by Erin

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:34 am

    We had removed the bumper from our son’s crib, but his legs kept getting stuck in the crib slats. Therefore, we put the bumper back on. Now, he is rolling over and sleeping on his belly with his face smashed against the bumber. Therfore, I ordered a breathable bumper to replace the one we currently use. I hope this new bumper arrives soon! I have been waking up every hour during the night to roll my son back onto his back.

  8. by Lesley

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I use the bumper for my 16mth old daughter, because she rolls and tosses during the night and bangs herself up and I think it helps her. But if these babies were found smushed up against the bumper -why haven’t they investigated?? We don’t care if the CPSC can’t prove it was the cause – they haven’t tried to prove it was NOT the cause of these deaths! I thought that’s what the CPSC was there for!!

  9. by Paula Fendley

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:37 am

    May I suggest a breathable bumper. I used one for my daughter and it worked great. She could breath if she mashed her face into it and no arms and legs went through railings. When the child is old enough to stand they cannot use it as a step because it collapsuse under their weight. I loved mine(daughter no longer uses it because she is 2yrs old)! I will never cut a fabric bulky bumper in my future childrens crib! By the way you can purchase a breatable bumper at Walmart, Target, and Babies R us!!

  10. by Lauren

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

    my kids pediatrician told me that once my twins started rolling over to remove the bumpers. My somes legs go through the bars but he’s able to get them out. I don’t believe in the breathable bumpers either. People will always use bumpers because they think they’re cute. My kids safety comes first. And yes it was on the news, within the next year or so. They will stop selling bumpers.

  11. by Paula Fendley

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

    *put not cut! oops

  12. by Teria

    On March 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

    For those that say to take the pads off the shelves and stop selling them, well what about blankets? They are a danger as well! In my opinion, I have a bumper pad BUT it was only on the crib for looks while my son slept in our room. Once I put him in his own crib I took the pad out! My son does get his arms and legs stuck in the slots when he is sleeping, but nothing to where he will break anything. As soon as he does it and it hurts he stops and cries till I come in and move him. He is only 11 months old and has been doing this since he was 7 months when I put him in his own room/crib! Im not saying bumper pads do or dont cause deaths…but I know I am not taking any chances to find out either way!

  13. by Jacqui

    On March 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    This is as rediculous as the ban on drop side cribs. 17 deaths out of how many thousands? millions? I don’t want to sound harsh, I know it’s a great tragedy for the families involved. But what else was involved? An infant cannot move well enough to smother himself against a crib bumper. Once they can move that well they can get themselves out unless there are other things in the crib that have shifted to imobilize them. Like the drop side cribs. a few parents put them together wrong and now the rest of us who follow the instructions and put the cribs together correctly are punished. It is rediculous!

  14. by L

    On March 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I used a regular bumper with my first two children and was lucky. I ordered a breathable bumper for this new baby — I’m not taking any chances.

    The “why do they sell them if they cause death” is a fallacial argument. They sell crib postioners, but they aren’t recommended. Same thing with probably at least a dozen or so baby products. Why take stupid chances if there are safer alternatives out there?

  15. by Jo

    On March 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    You know, I have to say that I am up in the air about this. People have been putting cushioned bumpers on cribs for years and there are thousands of babies born all the time who are put in cribs with bumpers. It’s the same with the drop side cribs. Years ago, people bought furniture at furniture stores who delivered and assembled the cribs. Now, people are putting them together themselves and some people are using screw guns. ( the directions say not to use screw guns) I dont think bumpers should be banned. Maybe the parents should be able to choose whether or not to use them.
    But, whatever the case may be, they should investigate what role the bumpers played in the incident.

  16. by Stephanie

    On March 30, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I took my daughter’s foam bumper out of her crib as soon as she started rolling around in her sleep. I had a friend give me one of the mesh bumpers her daughter had outgrown and it works beautifully! If she were to get stuck up against it, she could still breathe. Since she had got her leg stuck in between the spindles I had to have something there, and it works awesomely and is affordable. I have teh white one and it blends perfectly with her bedding and decor too for those who are decor savvy.

    I admit we all survived with foam crib bumpers, we also survived without car seats in some instances, but I believe they are not safe, and they disrupt the airflow to the crib while your child is sleeping. The breathable style is totally the way to go!


  17. by mom

    On March 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    COMMON SENSE. use of this product is age and developmental based. would not have on crib until baby turns fully back and forth. tie securely. they have been on the market FOREVER so use responsibly just like the hundreds of non baby proof items a baby can locate if negligence was present.

  18. by Ali

    On March 30, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I can’t believe how annoyed I was becoming reading some of these posts that said “what’s the big deal, my kids have used them….”. Here’s the thing, why take the chance? No, I’m not saying you should put your child in a padded room, on the floor “just to be safe”, but come on, kids shift around in the night, why put anything in there that might end up suffocating your child? Not all, but MANY moms out there HAVE to have the most adorable crib, the most adorable mobile, and the most adorable blankets, bumbers, stuffed animals, etc. Get over yourselves and always, always, do what is best for your child. period.

    If I haven’t pi**ed you off too much, please read what happened (or almost happened) to me. My daughter slept in a bassinet/co-sleeper next to my bed. She was very colicky, and was very soothed by a tight swaddle, the way the nurses had shown us. I also had an inclined sleep positioner to help her with any reflux (wasn’t sure if that was causing the colic). One morning, I woke up, and my daughter had somehow (at 3 weeks old) shifted lower and lower down the incline positioner, and her swaddling (receiving blanket) was completely covering her mouth and nose. She could have died. She could have breathed in too much carbon dioxide and she could have suffocated. I will never ever forget that moment, because it just looked soooooo awful, so dangerous. We were lucky, that’s it, we were lucky. Others parents were not, the CPSC issued warnings for sleep positioners due to infant deaths. I have no idea why they haven’t been banned, but that really doesn’t matter, does it? If the experts, the real experts, warn you about something that could harm your child, don’t ignore it just because you think you know better. All it takes is one unlucky moment, and your child is gone. How could anyone live with themselves if they ignored a warning and their child ended up getting hurt?

  19. by TomK1931

    On April 26, 2011 at 8:52 am

    If a parent was interested in doing away with the baby, a crib bumper is an easy way to do it. Particularly when the baby is too small to correct the problem. Considering the small number of these cases, I think that these deaths should be investigated as murder. Mothers and Fathers are normally good but there are some that aren’t. According to a website the earliest that a baby can roll over is 2 months. Deaths earlier than that are truly suspect.