Infant Sleep Positioner Deaths Leads to FDA and CPSC Warning

Federal regulators are warning parents not to use infant sleep positioners following the deaths of at least a dozen babies who have suffocated since the products began hitting the market. 

The FDA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a joint statement on September 29 calling for an end to the use of the sleep positioners, which they say can allow children to become trapped and suffocate. The FDA says that although the products claim to be able to prevent or reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), that has never been proven, and the products have been associated with the death of 12 infants between 1 month and 4 months old over the last 13 years.

“The deaths and dangerous situations resulting from the use of infant sleep positioners are a serious concern to the CPSC,” said Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the CPSC, in a joint press release. “We urge parents and caregivers to take our warning seriously and stop using these sleep positioners, so that children can have a safer sleep.”

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The infants who died suffocated in their sleep positioners or got trapped between the positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet. The CPSC also reported that it had received dozens of reports of incidents where parents who put their babies in infant sleep positioners later found them in potentially life-threatening positions, where they were trapped within or next to the devices.

In addition to claims that the infant sleep positioners help prevent SIDS, many claim that they help with an infant’s digestion and prevent flat head syndrome. The FDA says in the warning that none of these unproven benefits, if true, is worth the risk of infant death.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, CPSC and FDA recommend that the best way to avoid SIDS is to place infants on a firm surface on their backs, and to make sure there are no soft objects, like infant positioners, toys or loose bedding in cribs or bassinets with them.

The agencies did not mention any products by name in their warning, but baby sleep positioners are sold at most major retailers and children’s specialty stores, such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Toys ‘R’ Us.


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