Could this be the biggest danger to your baby?

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Spread the word, crib bumpers may be cute – but they have potential to be deadly too. A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics confirms what the American Academy of Pediatrics has been saying for years: there’s nothing safe about extra padding in an infant’s sleep space.

Browse any baby store and you’re bound to find them – padded liners meant to keep your little one’s limbs from getting stuck between crib rungs. They’re often sold as part of a bedding set, even though the AAP has long linked their use to incidences of sudden infant death syndrome and suffocation.

This new study, led by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, showed deaths involving crib bumpers are significantly on the rise.

“Crib bumpers are killing kids,” Dr. Bradley Thach told Medical News Today. “Bumpers are more dangerous than we originally thought. The infant deaths we studied could have been prevented if the cribs were empty.”

The numbers

Parsing decades of data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, as well as death certificates, autopsy and investigative reports, the team reached a clear conclusion: A startling number of infant deaths could have been prevented just by doing away with crib bumpers.

The team concluded that, from 1985-2012, 77 deaths were the direct result of bumpers. What’s more, 146 reports were filed to cite near deaths by strangulation, choking, or suffocation involving these pads.

What’s the harm?

Wondering how something so cute and seemingly comfortable could pose a safety risk? Dr. N.J. Scheers, the former manager of CPSC’s Infant Suffocation Project, weighs in, telling MNT that: “When a baby’s nose and mouth is covered by a bumper, the infant can suffocate when his or her airway becomes blocked, or from breathing oxygen-depleted air. So if bumpers had not been in the cribs, these babies would not have died.”

Say ‘no’ to bumpers

Based on their findings, the research team is now appealing to the CPSC to issue a federal ban on crib bumpers. Until the U.S. government responds, they advise parents to steer clear of the extra padding – no matter the safety claims made by a manufacturer. Some companies claim that their bumpers – crafted from thinner or more breathable materials – meet safety standards. However, this study found the thickness of the bumper made no difference. The mere presence of extra cushioning in the crib was problematic in itself.

“A ban on crib bumpers would reinforce the message that no soft bedding of any kind should be placed inside a baby’s crib. There is one sure-fire way to prevent infant deaths from crib bumpers: don’t use them, ever,” Dr. Thach said.

What do you think of these findings? Does this convince you to stay away from crib bumpers for your baby? Weigh in below! 

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