This February 2016 op-ed, written by Joyce Davis, Founder, Keeping Babies Safe, appeared in several news outlets.
It is of little surprise that the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has discovered that the greatest number of injuries and deaths among babies and toddlers occur when we put them to bed. It is an issue we have been highlighting for 15 years, advocating for safe sleep education for new parents and pleading with retailers to sell safe products.
The CPSC has released a study that details the number of injuries and deaths among American babies and toddlers up to age 5. Researchers examined an estimated 69,300 ER visits in 2014 with injuries directly linked to nursery products.
The largest number of injuries involved cribs and mattresses, with 11,900 incidents reported in 2014. It was the second consecutive year that cribs/mattresses topped the list, the CPSC notes, with 12,400 injuries reported in 2013.
The CPSC also conducted a three-year analysis of fatalities and how nursery products were related. Once again, cribs/mattresses were at the top, with the CPSC receiving reports of 311 deaths, 104 on annual average. About 40 percent – or 123 tragedies – were associated with cribs and mattresses.
We highlight these grim numbers to once again raise the importance of safe sleep when it relates to our youngest children. My non-profit organization – Keeping Babies Safe (KBS) – has been on the national forefront to advocate for safe products and safe sleep practices.
Unfortunately, with so many horrible diseases, plights and struggles grabbing America’s attention, the issue of safe sleep for babies can often become a back burner issue. But with the CPSC reporting that cribs/mattresses are the leading products that are killing or injuring our fragile little ones, isn’t it time to devote the attention needed to address the problem?
We are pleased the CPSC is now carefully reviewing our petition to ban supplemental baby mattresses from retail stores across America. It was the use of a supplemental mattress that suffocated my baby, Garret, in 2000, when it was used in his soft-sided play yard.
KBS has conducted a nationwide campaign to alert retailers about the dangers associated with supplemental mattresses. Through our advocacy, responsible retailers such as Toys R Us, buy buy Baby, Kmart, Sears and Wayfair have agreed to no longer sell the product. Moreover, retailers such as Amazon, Target and Walmart have pledged to investigate the issue.
The CPSC conducted a public comment period on our petition, with an overwhelming number of letters indicating support for the ban, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, representing 64,000 pediatricians across the country. It seems the only opponents to this sweeping ban came from manufacturers of the product, according to the comments the CPSC made public.
We have also received strong support from state lawmakers. In New Jersey, the General Assembly is now considering a ban on the sale of supplemental mattresses in the state. Our hope is that a CPSC decision later this year will address the issue – once and for all – across the country.
Banning products that have been continually proven dangerous is just part of the effort to protect babies and toddlers. KBS – and other safe sleep advocates across the country – provide recommendations to new parents to ensure their babies are sleeping safely. Earlier this year in New Jersey, the governor signed a law that KBS advocated, requiring the state Department of Health to provide safe sleep information to new parents.
KBS, and other groups, also provide low-income families with safe, modern cribs, as well as continually provide information through the traditional media, social media and blogs about ways in which parents can protect their little ones.
But, apparently, this is not enough.
For the CPSC to report lower numbers of injury and death in 2016 and beyond, it is critical for the community at-large to embrace the importance of safe sleep. Together, and en masse, we need to support campaigns that are working to ban fatal products – such as supplemental mattresses – while promoting public education campaigns that help new parents safely navigate life with their new ones.