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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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Friday, November 18th, 2011
In the wake of a spate of infant deaths among those who were “co-sleeping” in a bed next to their parents, Milwaukee officials have launched an aggressive ad campaign designed to shock parents into heeding safe sleep recommendations.
Nine infants have died in the city this year, the latest just 7 weeks old, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The ad the city unveiled depicts an infant in a bed next to a large butcher knife, alongside a caption that reads, “Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous.” The city has set a goal of reducing the infant death rate to an historic low by 2017, including eliminating racial disparities in the death rate.
From the Journal Sentinel:
“We as adults who love babies love the thought of a baby in bed,” [Milwaukee Mayor Tom] Barrett said.
“Cuddling a baby is very nurturing,” he said.
But if it takes a raw message to get the point across that babies must sleep alone, on their backs, in their own cribs, the ad is not too shocking, the mayor said.
“Co-sleeping deaths are the most preventable form of infant death in this community,” Barrett said.
“Is it shocking? Is it provocative?” asked Baker, the health commissioner.
“Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better (infant death) rates than Milwaukee.”
(image via: http://www.jsonline.com/)
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Friday, November 11th, 2011
A two-month-old baby boy died last week in Toledo after his mother fell asleep in bed with him while breastfeeding. Toledo’s WTOL News reports that the mother woke to discover the baby was not breathing. Paramedics could not revive the infant.
NPR.org summarizes the current recommendations for how to help an infant sleep safely and avoid such a tragedy:
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Co-sleeping is a catch-all term that needs to be broken down into subcategories. Sharing a room and sharing a bed are quite different practices.
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recognizes this distinction. It advises that infants should always sleep on their backs and on a firm surface, and on the issue of co-sleeping, recommends that “the baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).” The idea is that room-sharing embraces the benefit of close monitoring of the baby but avoids any risk of a parent inadvertently rolling over on the child.
Without a doubt, alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use by the parent, or low birth weight in the infant, make bed-sharing too risky.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), where infants die of unexplained cause before age 1, has declined dramatically since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommending that babies be placed on their backs to sleep. But at its annual meeting in Boston this week, the AAP said that sleep-related deaths for other reasons, including entrapment or suffocation, have been on the rise, prompting the group to issue new guidelines for safe sleep.
The group made the following recommendations:
- Always place your baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
- Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
- The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
- Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
- Wedges and positioners should not be used.
- Pregnant woman should receive regular prenatal care.
- Don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
- Breastfeeding is recommended.
- Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime.
- Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating.
- Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Infants should receive all recommended vaccinations.
- Supervised, awake tummy time is recommended daily to facilitate development and minimize the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly (flat heads).
For more, visit the AAP website http://www.healthychildren.org/.
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Friday, September 9th, 2011
This week the Chicago City Council adopted an ordinance banning the sale of crib bumper pads after learning they may have played a role in the deaths of a least a dozen babies, The Chicago Tribune reports.
Many families think of bumper pads as an essential way to keep babies cozy in the crib, but “babies can lack the motor skills and strength to turn their heads if they roll against something that blocks their breathing,” The Tribune said.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission already recommends that parents keep anything soft—such as pillows, quilts, and “pillow-like bumper pads,”—out of a baby’s bed to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But Nancy Maruyama, of SIDS of Illinois, pointed out that parents see bumper pads in stores, and think “if (stores) sell it, it must be safe,” she told the Tribune.
The state of Maryland is considering a similar ban, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has said it is studying the safety of bumper pads.
Chicago Aldermen were motivated by stories in The Chicago Tribune in March. The paper reported that federal regulators investigated at least a dozen cases where crib bumpers appeared to play a role in a baby’s death, but investigators ultimately said it wasn’t clear the pads were to blame. So reporters took a closer look at records about the deaths. From the Tribune:
[I]n reviewing the agency’s own records, the Tribune found that in many of those cases, babies who died had their faces pressed into bumper pads.
The Tribune also found at least 17 additional cases in which the safety agency did not investigate a child’s death even though the agency had reports on file suggesting bumper pads played roles in the fatalities.
The Chicago bumper pad ban will take effect in about seven months.
(image via: http://kidsindanger.blogspot.com)
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