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spacerThe Consumer Product Safety Commission >>Better Sleep Articles >> The Consumer Product Safety Commission
Articles in The Consumer Product Safety Commission
  1. Baby Danger - Adult Beds
  2. Prevent Infant Deaths from Soft Bedding
  3. Promoting Safe Bedding Practices for Babies

Baby Danger - Adult Beds

Baby Danger - Adult Beds

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Warns Against Placing Babies in Adult Beds.

CPSC Warns Against Placing Babies in Adult Beds; Study finds 64 deaths each year from suffocation and strangulation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning parents and caregivers about the dangers of placing babies to sleep in adult beds. A CPSC study published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that placing babies to sleep in adult beds puts them at risk of suffocation or strangulation. This is a danger of which many parents and caregivers are unaware. The study revealed an average 64 deaths per year to babies under the age of 2 years placed to sleep in adult beds, including waterbeds and daybeds.

A review of incident data from January 1990 to December 1997 linked adult beds to at least 515 baby deaths. Analysis of the deaths revealed four major hazard patterns:

  • Suffocation associated with the co-sleeping of adult and baby.
  • Suffocation where an infant becomes entrapped or wedged between the mattress and another object.
  • Suffocation due to airway obstruction when the baby is face down on a waterbed mattress.
  • Strangulation in rails or openings on beds that allow a baby's body to pass through while entrapping the head.

CPSC's study is the first to quantify the number of fatalities resulting from the practice of co-sleeping with babies. Of the 515 deaths, 121 were reported to be due to a parent, caregiver or sibling rolling on top of or against the baby while sleeping. More than three-quarters of these deaths occurred to infants younger than 3 months. The other 394 deaths resulted from suffocation or from strangulation caused by entrapment of the child's head in various structures of the bed. Entrapments occurred between the mattress and the wall, bed frame, headboard, footboard, bed railings or adjacent furniture.

One of the most tragic aspects of these deaths is that they are largely preventable. In many cases, the adult placing the baby in the adult bed was unaware of or underestimated the danger posed. The practice of co-sleeping can result in the adult rolling on top of or next to the baby smothering him or her. Mothers who breastfeed should be alerted to this hazard and should be encouraged to return the baby to the crib after breast-feeding.

"Don't sleep with your baby or put the baby down to sleep in an adult bed," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "The only safe place for babies is in a crib that meets current safety standards and has a firm, tight-fitting mattress. Place babies to sleep on their backs and remove all soft bedding and pillow-like items from the crib."

Of the 394 entrapment deaths, 296 were on adult beds, 79 were on waterbeds and 10 were on daybeds. Bed rails, which are portable railings that can be installed on toddler and adult beds to keep toddlers from falling out of beds, accounted for nine baby deaths. CPSC is working with the bed rail industry on the design of these products to reduce the hazard. The following chart provides more details on the fatality scenarios from entrapment and co-sleeping.

After Deaths in Maryland, CPSC Issues Warning About Infant Deaths

WASHINGTON, D.C. - After the deaths of two infants in Maryland from suffocation, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reissuing its warning about the suffocation risk of putting infants to sleep in adult beds or on top of soft bedding. Press reports indicate that on May 13, 1998, two 5-month old boys apparently suffocated on an adult bed with soft bedding while at a Stevensville, Md., home daycare center.

Infants should never be put to sleep on top of soft bedding. Whether used on cribs or adult beds, soft bedding, such as comforters, pillows and sheepskins can mold itself around an infant's face. This hazard may contribute to as many as 900 infant deaths each year.

In addition to the dangers posed by soft bedding, infants placed on adult beds can become wedged between the mattress and bed frame or wall, and between the bed and an adjacent piece of furniture. Suffocation also can occur when infants sink into waterbed mattresses while sleeping on their stomachs.

"The only safe place for infants under 2 years of age is in a crib, whether putting them to sleep for the night or putting them down for a quick nap," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "An infant should never be left on an adult bed."

CPSC recommends the following safety guidelines for preventing infant suffocation:

  • Place infants to sleep on their backs on a firm, tight fitting mattress in cribs that meet federal safety standards and industry voluntary standards.
  • Never place infants to sleep on adult beds, youth beds, waterbeds, day beds or bunk beds.
  • Do not place infants to sleep on top of soft, fluffy products, such as pillows, comforters or sheepskins.

 
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