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Sleep Positioners: A Suffocation Risk

CPSC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning parents and caregivers to stop using sleep positioners. Over the past 13 years CPSC and FDA have received 12 reports of infants between the ages of 1 month and 4 months who have died when they suffocated in these positioners or when they became trapped between a sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet. CPSC has received dozens of reports of infants who were placed on their backs or sides in sleep positioners, only to be found later in potentially hazardous positions within or next to the sleep positioners.

The safest crib is one with only a mattress and a tight-fitting sheet. Parents should stop using sleep positioners or ANY device to hold an infant on his or her back or side for sleep. These are unnecessary and can pose a suffocation risk to your baby.

For the safest sleep environment possible, place babies on their backs. Don’t put babies to sleep on top of pillows, comforters or thick quilts. And don’t place these items, or large stuffed toys, in your baby’s crib, bassinet or play yard.

An announcement such as this one is sure to raise some questions. Here are some answers.

What is a sleep positioner?

A sleep positioner is a product that is used to keep babies on their backs while sleeping. Some are flat mats with side bolsters, and others are inclined (wedge) mats with side bolsters. Both types of sleep positioners claim to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by keeping babies on their backs, help with food digestion and reflux, ease colic, and prevent flat head syndrome.

Are the medical claims associated with these products true?

The FDA and CPSC staffs have stated that there is currently no scientific evidence supporting these medical claims. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) already tells parents to avoid “commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.”

How are sleep positioners dangerous?

sleep positioner

A baby's face can get trapped against the bolster of a sleep positioner causing the baby to suffocate.

Both types of sleep positioners present problems. If children are placed on their sides or stomachs on a flat sleep positioner, the babies’ faces can get trapped against the bolster causing babies to suffocate. Babies placed on their sides with the bolster at their backs can easily roll onto their stomachs with their faces pressed into the product, blocking their breathing.

Babies placed on inclined sleep positioners can scoot around and end up with their heads hanging over the high edge of the positioners. This can cut off babies’ ability to breathe. In addition, babies can easily roll from their sides to stomachs or scoot themselves downward with their faces pressed against a bolster in these positioners. If bolsters come loose, babies can become trapped between the sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet.

In some inclined sleep positioners, babies have flipped off the positioner, ending up with the positioner landing on top of them. Each of these scenarios puts babies at risk of suffocation.

How do I make sure my baby stays on his back while sleeping?

Simply place your baby on his or her back in the crib. Once your baby rolls over onto his or her tummy, it’s okay to leave your baby there. Babies who can flip over can also turn their heads, a key developmental milestone that reduces the risk of suffocation. If your baby flips over while in a sleep positioner, however, he or she can have a hard time freeing his or her face from the device.

My baby has reflux and my sleep positioner helps. Do I really need to stop using it?
Yes, you should stop using these devices. FDA has no scientific proof that infant sleep positioners help to prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Talk with your pediatrician about safe sleep alternatives for your baby.

12 deaths in 13 years? Is this really a serious hazard?

The potential risk of suffocation and death is serious and preventable. CPSC and FDA believe there is no reason to introduce a risk into your baby’s crib, especially given the fact that there are no scientifically proven benefits of using sleep positioners.

Usually, you recall products that are unsafe. Why aren’t you recalling specific sleep positioners?

Because of the medical claims made with sleep positioners, they fall primarily under FDA’s jurisdiction, rather than CPSC’s. FDA is telling manufacturers of sleep positioners to submit scientific data to support their medical claims. Any manufacturer who makes a medical claim about a sleep positioner and who has not received FDA clearance must immediately stop marketing their products. Such devices are illegal and subject to FDA regulatory action.

If you have other questions, e-mail them to feedback@cpsc.gov.


(Watch in Windows Media format) (Transcript)

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/09/sleep-positioners-a-suffocation-risk/

Watch and Share: Check Your Crib for Safety

The drumbeat on drop-side cribs is continuing with the recall announcement today of more than 2 million more cribs. These cribs and the others that have already been recalled may well be in your house. They are made by Childcraft, Delta, Evenflo, Jardine, LaJobi, Million Dollar Baby, and Simmons.

There have been far too many tragedies involving babies and toddlers resulting from dangerous cribs. In the last five years, CPSC has announced 18 recalls involving more than 9 million drop-side cribs. The agency’s staff is actively investigating various crib manufacturers as part of a large, ongoing effort to remove unsafe cribs from the marketplace and your homes.

For many parents, the question is what to do with cribs in use right now. First and foremost after making sure that your crib hasn’t been recalled: Check your crib.

If you’re not quite sure what that means, this video is for you. Watch it, share it and take the advice of CPSC juvenile products engineer Patty Edwards. She is a premier expert on cribs and other nursery products.

(Read the transcript or watch in Windows Media format, or on CPSC’s YouTube Channel.)

If you’ve still got questions, here are a few that CPSC has received, along with answers:

Q: CPSC’s drop-side crib information makes me nervous about owning a drop-side crib, but I can’t afford a new crib. What should I do?

A: Check your crib as shown in the video. If your crib has loose sides or missing or broken pieces that you can’t easily tighten, then move your child to a different safe sleeping place. Depending on the child’s age, this can be a bassinet, a play yard or a toddler bed – so long as that product hasn’t been recalled as well.

Should I get an immobilizer for my crib, even if it hasn’t been recalled? Where do I get them?

An immobilizer stops the drop side from moving outwards as well as up and down. This prevents a baby from getting stuck between the drop side and the rest of the crib. You should get and use an immobilizer for your drop-side crib if it is available. Different cribs need different immobilizers. Contact your manufacturer to see if the company is offering or planning to offer an immobilizer for your crib.

Immobilizers should only be used on cribs that do not have broken or missing hardware. An immobilizer will not make broken cribs safe. An immobilizer will prevent future breakage and protect hardware.

In addition, immobilizers are meant to be used on newer cribs, not cribs that are older than 10 years.

The immobilizer fix kit on my recalled crib forced the drop side to become stationary. I’m short and can’t reach my baby. What can I do?

CPSC’s staff understands how difficult it can be for some moms to use a tall fixed-side crib. Some of us are short moms, too. Convenience, though, is a different question than safety. We at CPSC aim to provide you with the best information available to us to keep your baby safe.

Some manufacturers make cribs with drop-gates rather than drop sides and cribs that are lower to the ground.

If you’re short and are finding your newly fixed-side crib difficult to use, look for a safe solution to reach down to your baby. One solution could be a wide, sturdy step stool, such as the steps used in step aerobics.

I’m using a second-hand drop-side crib. Is this safe for my baby?

Age is a factor in the safety of any drop-side crib. At a minimum, CPSC staff recommends that you not use a crib that’s older than 10 years. Many older cribs may not meet current voluntary standards and can have numerous safety problems.

The more use a particular crib experiences over time, the more that crib will sustain wear and tear on hardware and joints, allowing screws to loosen and fall out and plastic parts to flex and break. Repeated assembly and disassembly increases the likelihood that crib parts can be damaged or lost. In addition, wood warps and shrinks over time, and glue can become brittle. This can lead to joint and slat failures.

Be sure to check your crib regularly and stop using it if you are at all uncertain about its safety.

Do you have other questions? E-mail them to feedback@cpsc.gov.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/06/watch-and-share-check-your-crib-for-safety/

CPSC Warns Parents About Drop-Side Cribs

En Español

A baby can strangle in the “V” shape when the top portion of the drop side detaches.

A baby can strangle in the “V” shape when the top portion of the drop side detaches.

As part of its commitment to ensure safe sleep for young children, CPSC is once again warning parents and caregivers about deadly hazards with drop-side cribs. In the last five years, CPSC has announced 11 recalls involving more than 7 million drop-side cribs due to suffocation and strangulation hazards created by the drop side. CPSC staff is actively investigating several other crib manufacturers for potential drop-side hazards as part of a larger effort by the agency to rid the marketplace and homes of unsafe cribs. CPSC will continue to take aggressive action to address any risks and will keep the public informed.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum has committed to parents and caregivers that there will be a new and vastly improved mandatory federal standard for cribs this year. The standard will incorporate, at minimum, the new voluntary standard banning drop-side cribs from the United States market. Due to the new voluntary industry standard, many manufacturers have already stopped selling drop-side cribs or will do so beginning June 1, 2010.

CPSC technical staff has determined drop-side cribs generally have a tendency to be less structurally sound than cribs with four fixed sides. Drop-side hardware is prone to break, deform or experience other problems during normal or foreseeable use. The older the crib, the more problems can be expected. When drop-side hardware breaks or deforms, the drop side can detach in one or more corners from the crib. If an infant or toddler rolls or moves into the space created by a partially detached drop side, the child can become entrapped or wedged between the crib mattress and the drop side and suffocate. Infants can also strangle in the “V” shape formed by a drop side that detaches in an upper corner.

Check your crib regularly and make sure it has not already been recalled. While CPSC staff cannot say that every drop-side crib is hazardous, based on investigations of incidents we have received, the agency believes that overall most drop-side cribs are more prone to mechanical failure than similar designed fixed-side cribs.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/05/cpsc-warns-parents-about-drop-side-cribs/

Your Simplicity Crib Recall Questions Answered

En Español
Q: I have a Simplicity Model 8997 Crib. It appears to have the same type of mattress support. I am not sure if it is included in the recall or not. I have not seen it on any of the lists. I am concerned that it is one that was missed. Has this model been evaluated? Have there been any reports of incidents? I am concerned because it does appear to have a gap between the mattress and the sides of the crib. In some areas the gap seems rather large. I would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience.

A: CPSC has heard this question many times since last week’s recall. ALL Simplicity cribs with the tubular metal mattress have been recalled. Because Simplicity is out of business, CPSC does not know all the model numbers that use the tubular metal mattress support. The model numbers listed in the recall are the ones that CPSC is certain exist, but many other model numbers are affected as well.

Q: I just found on the website that my son’s crib was recalled in September of 2008, but I had never seen anything about this until now. It has the tubular mattress support and the site says that all the cribs with this design are being recalled. What if I don’t have a receipt showing when or where it was purchased? Can I still take it back to the store where it was purchased? I don’t want to take it all apart and make a 35 minute trek to my “local” Walmart, and then be told there’s nothing they can do. Please let me know.

A: You do not need a receipt to return a recalled crib to the retailer. The recalled cribs were sold at Walmart, Target, Babies R Us and other stores nationwide. Contact the store where the crib was purchased to receive a refund, replacement crib or store credit. This Simplicity recalls chart shows you numerous Simplicity nursery products that have been recalled and what you can do. CPSC recommends that you bring the recall notice with you to the retailer when you return your crib in case the retailer has questions.

Q: Are retailers required to provide a remedy? If the retailers are not providing a remedy that I like, for instance minimal refunds, do I have any other options?

Because Simplicity is no longer in business, CPSC reached out to retailers to request they voluntarily participate in the recall. Many retailers, including those identified above, have voluntarily agreed to provide consumers with a refund, store credit or replacement crib, at their discretion. If your retailer is refusing to provide any remedy, please let us know so that CPSC staff can contact the retailer.

A company may take into account the age of a product when providing a refund or store credit.

Simplicity Crib with tubular metal mattress support

One of the bars in this Simplicity mattress support has detached. Others are bent.

Q: My crib is part of the Simplicity crib recall due to having a metal tube frame system (for the mattress to rest on). I do not have a drop rail. I checked my crib. It seems fine, no loose parts, it does not wiggle one bit when I try to move/shake it. If my crib seems structurally fine can I let my child sleep on it?

A: Do NOT continue to use this crib or any crib that has been recalled. These Simplicity drop-side and fixed side cribs have been recalled because the mattress support can collapse and pieces can bend or detach. CPSC is aware of a one-year-old who died in a fixed-side Simplicity crib. CPSC also knows of more than a dozen additional incidents involving the recalled cribs collapsing due to bending or detaching metal pieces in the mattress support frame.

Make sure to find an alternate safe sleeping environment for your child until you have a new crib in place. If your baby is less than six months old and is not yet able to push up to his/her hands and knees, you can put your baby to sleep in a bassinet. After that, you can use a play yard. Once your child is mobile and is climbing out, you can use a toddler bed or a mattress on the floor.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/05/your-simplicity-crib-recall-questions-answered/

Is Your Drop-Side Crib on the Recall List?

Graco-branded Lajobi drop-side cribs have now been added to the list of recalled cribs because the hardware can break or fail, allowing the drop side to detach from the crib.

CPSC and LaJobi have received 99 reports of drop-side incidents. In two of them, children became entrapped in the gap created by the detached drop side and were freed by their caregivers. Six other children fell through the gap, including one who sustained a mild concussion.

Since 2007, CPSC has recalled more than 7 million drop-side cribs in which children have died or been injured. Parents and caregivers who own a drop-side crib should check the crib’s brand and label against CPSC crib recalls

Here are some of the biggies:

It is important for parents and caregivers to regularly check cribs for loose or broken parts. If you have a broken crib, don’t use it and don’t try to fix it yourself. Do you have more questions? This crib blog Q&A is designed to answer your questions about what drop-sides are, whether they are safe, how to examine your crib and what to do if your crib has broken, missing or warped parts.

If you have further questions, e-mail them to feedback@cpsc.gov.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/04/is-your-drop-side-crib-on-the-recall-list/