We lose lives when products that are supposed to be safe turn out defective and deadly. When we lose infants who have barely tasted life to defective or unsuitable products, the grief is multiplied many times.
One such unsuitable product is the incline infant sleeper. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., last week called for a complete ban of the sale of all incline infant sleepers following a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report that found dozens of infants have died while sleeping in such products.
The commission is warning parents and caregivers about the dangers of these popular products for infants, citing the findings of a new study, according to the report. The study reveals a growing body of evidence that inclined sleepers with high angles do not provide a safe sleep environment for infants. Several inclined sleepers have previously been recalled by the commission.
The commission received reports of 1,108 incidents, including 73 infant deaths, related to infant inclined sleep products that occurred from January 2005 through June 2019. The commission hired independent experts — mechanical engineers specializing in biomechanics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences — to conduct infant testing to evaluate the design of inclined sleep products.
Engineers measured infants’ muscle movements and oxygen intake while in various products and positions, such as a flat crib, an inclined crib and several inclined sleep products. They found that none of the inclined sleep products they tested are safe for infant sleep. Their report was conclusive: Products with inclines of 10 degrees or less, with flat and rigid surfaces, are likely safe for infant sleep. Engineers also found that soft and plush-like sleep surfaces pose dangers to infants.
Gillibrand is right to have urged a complete recall and ban of these harmless-looking but potentially deadly infant beds. It’s too late to save the children who have died in the sleep of the truly innocent, but it’s not too late to save future parents and children from grief and tragedy.