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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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Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
Nearly half of two-month-old babies who were part of a recent study were found to have flat spots on their heads. Researchers at Mount Royal University in Calgary believe that the culprit could be the widespread use of devices like swings and seats that hold babies in static positions, and the practice–recommended as the safest way to protect against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)–of laying babies to sleep on their backs. More from NBC.com:
“The reason why we want to catch this early is because if we see children with flattened heads, sometimes there are changes in their facial features,” says Aliyah Mawji, a registered nurse at the university who led the study.
Pediatricians and pediatric nurses have noticed a big increase in the number of babies with flat spots on their heads – a condition known as positional plagiocephaly (“oblique head” in Greek).
Most experts say it’s due to advice to put babies to sleep on their backs – which in turn has slashed rates of sudden infant deaths syndrome or SIDS. But babies have big, heavy heads and weak little necks, which means their heads tend to roll to one side. Because their skulls are still soft, this can cause a flat spot….
…So [Mawji] and colleagues did a survey in four Calgary clinics where parents bring their babies – each in a different type of neighborhood. They looked at 440 babies aged 7 to 12 weeks. “We found that 46.6 percent actually had some form of plagiocephaly,” Mawji says.
A slight majority, 63 percent, had the flat spot on the right, and Mawji says that comes from the moment of birth.
“This is actually due to the birthing process itself,” Mawji says. “The majority of infants come out in such a way that their head is turned to the right.” This is in part because the mother’s pelvic bone and spine don’t move – they’re hard bones – so the more flexible baby ends up squished and twisted.
If a baby doesn’t move around enough, this flat spot can become more permanent. And if no one does anything, and the skull hardens, it could become really permanent.
Most of the cases Mawji saw were mild. And while she took care to get a range of family types into her study, she stresses that more research is needed to really show how common the issue is across the larger North American population. But her findings show it is probably more common than most people thought.
Experts recommend parents make a concerted effort to move their babies regularly, still putting them to sleep on their backs, but encouraging them to alternate which side of their head is against the mattress, seat, or swing.
Image: Sleeping baby, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Bed-sharing between parents and a baby is associated with a five-fold increase in the risk that an infant could die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. The risk, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, is the same even in households where parents do not smoke, take drugs, or drink alcohol–the factors that have been previously associated with SIDS. More from MedPageToday.com:
When neither parent smoked, and the baby was breastfed, less than 3-months old, and had no other major SIDS risk factors, the adjusted odds ratio for bed-sharing versus room-sharing was still 5.1 (2.3 to 11.4), reported Robert Carpenter PhD, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues, in the online journal BMJ Open.
The estimated absolute risk for bed-sharing compared with room-sharing was 0.23/1,000 live births (0.11 to 0.43) versus 0.08/1,000 live births, they added.
Nine out of 10 SIDS deaths that involved sleeping with a parent or caregiver would not have occurred in the absence of bed-sharing, the researchers concluded.
Advice on bed-sharing varies by country, but “there is general acceptance that sleeping with a baby is a risk factor for SIDS when sleeping … in a bed if the mother smokes and/or has taken alcohol,” the authors explained. But there’s less consensus on whether bed-sharing is still a problem with the absence of these risk factors.
The study combined five major case-control trials conducted in the U.K. and Europe, as well as in Australia and surrounding countries, that included 1,472 infant SIDS deaths and 4,679 controls, making it the largest study of SIDS risk factors ever reported, according to the authors.
Bed-sharing was defined as sleeping in the same bed with one or both parents, while room-sharing was defined as sleeping in a crib in the same room as a parent.
Updated 5/22/13 to remove the reference to “co-sleeping.” While “co-sleeping” and “bed-sharing” are sometimes used interchangeably, there are methods of co-sleeping that are safe, while studies such as the one discussed in this post show the dangers of bed-sharing.
Dress Baby for Sleep
Image: Baby in bed, 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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