Go to any baby store, and you’ll find a myriad of bedding choices for decorating a new baby’s crib. The lovely bedding sets come in all varieties – from pink and frilly to blue and bouncy, decorated with all variety of animals, cartoon characters, and every other imaginable theme. But what do they all have in common? Their components: sheets, bedskirts, quilted bedspreads, and, of course, decorative crib bumpers.
But one of those components can and does kill infants every year. After decades of deaths, it is clear to those who are informed, including the wrongful death attorneys of Passen & Powell, that crib bumpers simply must be pulled from the market. Unfortunately, although the deaths continue to stack up, our government still refuses to take action to end the dangerous practice of selling crib bumpers for use in infant cribs.
In fact, crib bumpers are among the most dangerous items that can be placed in an infants crib. That is because, like the more commonly known hazards of pillows, stuffed animals, and sleep positioners, crib bumpers often have a soft, pliant surface that can pose a suffocation hazard. Infants who inadvertently roll or squirm into a position that leaves their face pressed against any of these items often lack the strength and coordination to free themselves. Young infants can, and regularly do, suffocate as a result of the placement of such pillowy items in cribs.
Yet federal regulators have still failed to take action to so much as warn parents of the risks associated with crib bumpers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has, over the past twenty years, received at least two dozen reports of infant deaths associated with crib bumpers. That is more than one dead infant a year – and this is in addition to the many deaths where bumpers were present, and a possible or probable contributing factor, but the exact cause of death could not be conclusively established.
And that figure is likely far too low. An independent investigation by Dr. Bradley Thach concluded that over the course of those same two decades, at least 27 infant deaths were provably caused by crib bumpers. And Dr. Thach, like our Chicago child death attorneys, believes that many more deaths were in fact caused by this dangerous product, but were wrongly attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (or SIDS) due to an insufficient investigation. Indeed, data from the National Center for Child Death Review (federally funded) shows at least 14 deaths involving crib bumpers just since 2008. And the CPSC itself has received (again, over the same 20-year period) 52 additional reports of bumper-related deaths where the agency could not conclusively establish that bumpers were the cause of death.
But the CPSC has still not taken action. Even after a recent campaign of intense public pressure, the agency has only agreed to “reexamine” the issue and the data – not even to do so much as issue a warning.
Nor is the industry self regulating. In fact, the trade group that sets safety standards for crib bedding has yet to even set standards for crib bumpers.
Independent organizations, however, have now stepped into the fray. Responsible groups from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American SIDS Institute to the Canadian Health Department have come out against crib bumpers, urging that they not be used. And some state governments have taken action. Illinois has passed one of the oddest crib-bumper laws in the nation, banning bumpers from use in day care centers while children are sleeping, but permitting their use while children are awake (leading to the question of whether day care workers can reasonably be expected to remove the bumpers, which usually involve a series of dozens of individual ties or other fastenings, when children fall asleep).
Our infant death lawyers are appalled that a product that has killed so many infants is still so consistently used and sold. Even one infant death is one too many – each death is a tragedy, and the deaths from crib bumpers continue to occur. We join with others in demanding that the CPSC take action on this important issue, and either create regulations to require the safe use of crib bumpers or put an end to the practice of selling crib bumpers altogether.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.