A ban on baby crib bumper pads went into effect in the state of Maryland on June 21, making it the first state to outlaw the devices, which critics say serve no purpose and put infant lives at risk. Â
The Maryland crib bumper pad ban affects crib bumpers made of non-mesh type material that sit directly above the mattress along the length of each side of the crib’s interior.
Those who violate the ban will receive a warning the first time they ship or sell the bumpers to Maryland, and repeat violations will result in a $500 fine for each crib bumper shipped or sold in the state.
Maryland first announced the ban in November, after an 18-month investigation into their safety. The state determined that the crib bumper pads offer no meaningful benefit to infants and put them at risk of suffocation and death.
A number of medical professional organizations have recommended against their use, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been investigating the use and safety of crib bumpers since 2011.
On June 3, the CPSC granted a petition by the Juvenile Products manufacturers Association (JPMA) to create performance standards for crib bumpers, which the JPMA says is preferable to a ban that could eliminate safe products from the market as well as the dangerous ones. The new rules are expected sometime in 2014.
“Crib bumpers have been a staple in crib sales marketing, and in many American nurseries, for years,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum in a statement (PDF). “Their utility and safety benefits, however, are certainly up for debate. Tragically, many infant deaths have been linked to the use of crib bumpers.”
The JPMA wants the CPSC to distinguish between crib bumpers that are of “hazardous pillow-like” design and those that are “nonhazardous traditional” designs.
The Maryland ban does not apply to vertical crib bumpers that wrap tightly around each crib rail or mesh crib liners, but state health officials say they do not endorse the use of any crib bumper.
“The ban on the sale of crib bumpers promotes safe sleep for infants, and safer sleep will mean fewer tragedies for Maryland families,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in a June 20 press release.