WARNING: Sleep Positioners Pose Suffocation Risk

Back To Sleep means back to sleep.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that products marketed as sleep positioners for infants, intended to prevent SIDS, have caused 13 suffocation deaths in young infants since 1997. Unintentional suffocation is the leading cause of injury death for U.S. children younger than 1-year-old, according to the CDC. The devices aim to keep a baby in a specific position while sleeping.

All 13 reported deaths tied to the devices occurred in children younger than 4-months-old, nine of whom were placed on their sides to sleep. Many of the children were found lying on their stomachs. Four of the victims had been born prematurely, and three of them were one of a pair of twins. Four of the infants had recent histories of respiratory illnesses.

“Although [infant sleep positioners] have been available since the 1980s, only a few manufacturers have been cleared by the FDA to provide products, by prescription, to manage particular medical conditions,” such as gastroesophageal reflex (GERD), CDC researchers wrote. “Despite other manufacturers’ claims regarding SIDS prevention or other health benefits, FDA has never cleared or approved a positioning device for preventing or reducing the risk for SIDS.”

In December 2010, the FDA and the CPSC warned against using infant sleep positioners, which at the time were tied to 12 deaths.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also backed those recommendations, saying “The AAP believes sleep positioners represent a risk to sleeping babies.”

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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