Friday, October 4th, 2013
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved new safety standards for cradles and bassinets, designed to prevent deaths and injuries that can happen in poorly constructed versions. More than 130 children died between 2007 and 2013 because of faulty bassinets and cradles, and the CPSC is aware of 426 incidents involving them. The new guidelines include:
- a clarification of the scope of the bassinet/cradle standard;
- a change to the pass/fail criterion for the mattress flatness test;
- an exemption from the mattress flatness requirement for bassinets that are less than 15 inches across;
- the addition of a removable bassinet bed stability requirement; and
- a change to the stability test procedure, requiring the use of a newborn CAMI dummy rather than an infant CAMI dummy.
The new standards, which define “bassinet or cradle” as a small bed designed primarily to provide sleeping accommodations for infants, supported by free standing legs, a stationary frame or stand, a wheeled base, a rocking base, or swing relative to a stationary base. In a stationary (non-rocking or swinging) position, a bassinet/cradle is intended to have a sleep surface less than or equal to 10 degrees from horizontal. Bassinets and cradles are not meant to be used past the age of 5 months.
A major impetus behind the new guidelines is the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Check your own sleep safety habits by reading this article by Parents.com’s health director: The Safe-Sleep Rules Parents Break
Image: Bassinet, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
A growing number of families are bed-sharing, or having their infants and young children sleep in bed with their parents, despite warnings from health experts that the practice increases the chances that a baby could die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, or entanglement. A new government-funded study shows that bed-sharing has doubled over the past 17 years. More from USA Today:
The increase was most notable among African-American infants, according to the study reported Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Overall, the percentage of nighttime caregivers who reported that an infant usually shared a bed rose from 7% in 1993 to 14% in 2010. Among black infants the proportion increased from 21% to 39%. Among white infants, it rose from 5% to 9%. Among Hispanic infants, it rose from 13% to 21%.
“The disparity in nighttime habits has increased in recent years,” said lead author Eve Colson of the Yale University School of Medicine in a statement. “Because African-American infants are already at increased risk for SIDS, this trend is a cause for concern.”
Advice from physicians could significantly reduce infant bed-sharing, also known as co-sleeping, for all families, finds the survey of nearly 20,000 caregivers conducted by researchers with the National Institutes of Health and others. Caregivers who perceived physicians’ attitude as against sharing a bed were about 34% less likely to report that the infant usually shared a bed than were caregivers who received no advice.
To reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related dangers, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies to sleep in the same room as the caregiver, but not in the same bed.
Image: Bed-sharing family, via Shutterstock
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Monday, November 26th, 2012
Federal officials from two agencies are warning that “baby sleep positioners,” mat- or wedge-shaped bolsters that are supposed to encourage babies to sleep on their backs, are actually quite dangerous and are responsible for at least 13 deaths in the past 15 years. The New York Times has more:
“We urge parents and caregivers to take our warning seriously and stop using these sleep positioners,” Inez Tenenbaum, the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a statement.
The sleep positioner devices come primarily in two forms. One is a flat mat with soft bolsters on each side. The other, known as a wedge-style positioner, looks very similar but has an incline, keeping a child in a very slight upright position.
Makers of the devices claim that by keeping infants in a specific position as they sleep, they can prevent several conditions, including acid reflux and flat head syndrome, a deformation caused by pressure on one part of the skull. Many are also marketed to parents as a way to help reduce a child’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, which kills thousands of babies every year, most between the ages of 2 months and 4 months.
But the devices have never been shown in studies to prevent SIDS, and they may actually raise the likelihood of sudden infant death, officials say. One of the leading risk factors for sudden infant death is placing a baby on his or her stomach at bedtime, and health officials have routinely warned parents to lay babies on their backs. They even initiated a “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 1990s, which led to a sharp reduction in sudden infant deaths.
With the positioner devices, if an infant rolls onto the stomach, the child’s mouth and nose can press up against a bolster or some other part of the device, leading to suffocation. Even if placed on the back, a child can move up or down in the positioner, “entrapping its face against a bolster or becoming trapped between the positioner and the crib side,” Gail Gantt, a nurse consultant with the Food and Drug Administration, said in an e-mail. Or the child might scoot down the wedge in a way that causes the child’s mouth and nose to press into the device.
Image: Sleeping baby, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
Sleep-training techniques that fall into the controversial “cry-it-out” category are actually effective and do not cause psychological harm if conducted in a controlled, consistent way, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. Time.com has more:
The study looked at two sleep-training methods known as controlled comforting and camping out, both of which let babies cry it out for short amounts of time. Controlled comforting requires the parent to respond to their child’s cries at increasingly longer intervals to try to encourage the baby to settle down on her own. In camping out, the parent sits in a chair next to the child as he learns to fall asleep; slowly, over time, parents move the chair farther and farther away, until they are out of the room and the infant falls asleep alone.
While neither strategy is as extreme as letting babies cry all night by themselves, they have been criticized over concerns that they may cause long-term emotional or psychological harm in babies, interfere with their ability to manage stress or cripple their relationship with their parents.
The new study by Australian researchers involved 326 children who had parent-reported sleep problems at 7 months. Half of the babies were put in the sleep-training group, in which parents learned helpful bedtime routines as well as the controlled-comforting or camping-out technique (parents could choose which strategy they wanted to use), and half were put in a control group that did not use sleep-training. The researchers followed up with the participants and their parents five years later. (By the study’s end, about 30% of families had dropped out.)
By age 6, the researchers found no significant differences between the kids in either group in terms of emotional health, behavior or sleep problems. In fact, slightly more children in the control group had emotional or behavioral problems than in the sleep-trained group.
Researchers also found no differences in mothers’ levels of depression or anxiety, or in the strength of parent-child bonds between families who had used sleep-training and those who hadn’t.
Image: Crying baby in crib, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Researchers at the University of South Carolina and George Washington University medical schools have analyzed the search results that parents get when searching for common child health-related phrases including “infant sleep position” and “infant cigarette smoking,” and discovered that a high proportion of the results contain medically inaccurate information. The Boston Globe has more:
About 57 percent of the sites provided either inaccurate or irrelevant information, while 43 percent were accurate.
The search words “infant cigarette smoking,” “infant sleep position,” and “infant sleep surface,” were most likely to produce results with accurate information. Government and organizational websites were the most accurate. Sites that contained inaccurate information were mostly blogs, retail product sites, and independent websites. News sites had accurate information about half of the time.
Image: Family with laptop, via Shutterstock
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