Young parents who want to provide the very best care for their new baby are often bombarded with conflicting recommendations regarding product safety. These products come and go, sometimes end in manufacturer recalls… but often remain in the stores because no definitive studies have been performed regarding their safety.
That’s why today I thought it important to discuss one particular controversial infant product; sleep bolsters for the crib or bassinet which have recently received a warning from the FDA. These bolsters are still on the market but should be researched very carefully before taking any action or making any purchase.
In a previous newsletter, dated November 3rd 2009, I described the risks of SIDS in newborns and what parents might do as a measure of prevention. One of the most important suggestions was to always keep sleeping infants on their backs.
This theory prevails because a major risk factor for SIDS is sleeping a newborn on their side or face down on the baby’s stomach. Because of this information, companies have designed infant sleep positioners as a means of forcing a child to sleep in a certain position. These sleep positioners are usually flat mattresses with side bolsters or wedge mattresses that elevate the head of the baby. However, no scientific studies have been presented to the FDA to verify the claims that these positioners actually work to prevent SIDS.
Sleep positioners are also sold to ease colic, prevent gastroesophageal reflux and prevent plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome where pressure has been placed on a particular aspect of the baby’s skull causing a bony deformation. However the FDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission have recently issued warnings to stop using these products.
Sadly, several reports have now surfaced in which infants have died of suffocation because of these devices. As a matter of fact, a total of 12 infants have died in the past 13 years due to these products. It seems that infants have managed to change their positions from being initially on their backs to their sides or abdomens and have been unable to self-correct. This places them in one of several potentially dangerous situations or positions.
As stated in our previous blog, parents should also avoid pillows, comforters and quilts in a baby’s crib for the same reasons.
During this holiday season, please remember to be particularly vigilant regarding gifts that are received from well-intentioned, but not fully informed, relatives and friends. If you know anyone who may benefit from reading this article, please feel free to forward them this email.