The Washington University School of Medicine study, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that 48 infant deaths from 1985 to 2012 were specifically attributed to cot bumpers. Additionally, 146 infants nearly suffocated, choked or were strangled by cot bumpers.
The study showed that the number of deaths attributed to cot bumpers had spiked in recent years: The 23 deaths reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission from 2006 to 2012 was three times higher than the average of eight deaths reported in each of the three previous seven-year time spans.
In September 2011, Chicago was the first American city to ban the sale of cot bumpers. A few weeks later, Maryland became the first state to propose a ban, which took effect in June 2013.
"Because crib bumper pads offer no meaningful benefit and pose potentially serious risks to infants, including suffocation and death, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health all advise against their use", said the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The Lullaby Trust, which offers advice on how to ensure babies have a safe night’s sleep and provides support to those bereaved through sudden infant death syndrome, said cot bumpers are a "serious threat" to babies.
"This is compelling new evidence that cot bumpers do pose a serious risk to babies", said the charity’s chief executive, Francine Bates. "We do not recommend the use of any sort of cot bumpers and urge all parents to follow our safer sleep advice to use a flat firm mattress in a cot or Moses basket with no loose bedding, pillows or bumpers".
It's not the first time we've been warned about the dangers of cot bumpers. The NCT website states that the safety of cot bumpers is "questionable because they can also trap heat in the cot and could be used to climb on when your baby becomes more mobile". However, parents continue to use them — probably because all the major retailers continue to sell them. A quick search showed a wide range of cot bumpers for sale at Mothercare, Kiddicare, Very.co.uk, Tesco, Amazon, Littlewoods and many more. Let's face it — baby bedding is big business.
It's natural for parents to believe that products being sold by trusted brands and retailers are safe. Many parents may, in fact, believe they are making their baby's cot safer with a bumper because it acts as a cushion between their head and the bars. It doesn't help that there is no official advice about the use of cot bumpers in the U.K. But the figures speak for themselves.
Ditch the cot bumpers, and watch this video from The Lullaby Trust for expert advice on how to ensure your baby sleeps safely:
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