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Posted at 6:43 PM ET, 02/16/2011

New data on crib injuries

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

Data published this morning in the journal Pediatrics reveals the alarming frequency of injuries to babies who have been placed in cribs, playpens or bassinets.

A review of emergency-room treatments for more than 181,000 babies age 2 and under from 1990 to 2008 showed an average of 113 deaths per year from accidents associated with those three pieces of nursery equipment. That number, which is considered low because such deaths are typically under-reported -- is far higher than should be acceptable, the authors note. But they are not especially surprising, as such fatalities have been tracked before.

What hasn't been tallied until this study is the number of non-fatal, but often quite serious, injuries to babies who have been placed in cribs, playpens or bassinets. An average of 26 such injuries per day occurred during the time studied, with most (66 percent) involving falls, usually from cribs (83 percent) and most commonly affecting the head or neck (40 percent).

The study calls for creation and implementation of safety measures in the design and construction of cribs, playpens and bassinets. It also recommends that parents be told how to safely use such equipment and made aware of dangers they may pose.

Still, the authors note that parents and other caregivers use such equipment to keep babies out of harm's way when the caregiver isn't able to keep his or her most vigilant eye on the child. Caregivers, the study argues, can't reasonably be expected to anticipate and protect against all the kinds of harm a baby placed in a crib, playpen or bassinet might face.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission in December finally voted to ban the manufacture and sale of drop-side cribs. That move alone should go a long way toward reducing the number of infant deaths and injuries: The study found that many falls from cribs occurred when side rails either were left down or slid down when a child leaned on them. Babies' high center of gravity, the study notes, makes them susceptible to tumbling head-first over such rails.

Parents, do you feel safe when you place your baby in a crib, playpen or bassinet? Do these new figures surprise you? And do you think manufacturers and federal regulators are doing enough to keep babies safe from such injuries?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | February 16, 2011; 6:43 PM ET
Categories:  Family Health, Infant health, Kids' health, Motherhood, Parenting, Prevention, Sleep  
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It truly amazes me how many of my friends don't think it's dangerous that their kids can climb out of their cribs. The kids grow and grow, but the parents leave the cribs on the newborn setting (i.e. don't lower them). Parents ARE told how to safely operate cribs - it's called a manual. They just don't read them.

Posted by: Marimom | February 16, 2011 7:35 PM | Report abuse

If a small child is physically capable of climbing even partially on top of or out of an enclosure, or capable of toppling the enclosure over, then that enclosure is no longer safe for that child. Parents and caregivers need to be observant and mindful of what their infant or toddler is capable of doing.

(And kids' capacities can change in a heartbeat. My 2-year-old son wasn't yet able to climb the sides of the plastic play structure that his older sister used... or so I thought. When we turned away for just a short moment, he figured it out. Just well enough to hoist himself to the top, catch his foot in the side opening, and fall off. Only about 4' to the ground, thank goodness, but a nasty enough stress and twist to cause a badly broken leg (femur). Next step, hospital. Total immobilization cast from waist down (both legs) for 6 weeks. Boy, did we learn a lesson that day.)

Posted by: nan_lynn | February 17, 2011 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Lets take a look at these numbers: 181,000 over an 18 year period. So a little over 10,000 a year with 113 fatalities (on average) a year... that's less than .1% of injuries taken to an Emergency room resulted in fatalities.

First OF COURSE these numbers are high -they're in an EMERGENCY ROOM. This is known as population validity. For example: how many emergencies are taken to an emergency room? What, 98%? ALARMING!

What is an acceptable number of deaths? 100 a year? OF COURSE ITS UNACCEPTABLE.

Alarmist "reporting" without statistical context.

By the way ... more people eat ice cream in the summertime than winter. More people drown in the summertime than winter. Therefore, ALARMINGLY, ICE CREAM CAUSES DROWNING!


Posted by: topwriter | February 17, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Please stop these nonsenseical 'research projects' that continue to send this nation into a stupid state of hysteria.

Now, if cribs, play pens or bassinets are not 'safe' for babies, what is the alternative these intellectual researchers have for a solution since they long ago deemed your child sleeping in the same bed with you as dangerous?

We have attained a level of 'intellect' that borders on absolute stupidity.

Posted by: dharper2 | February 18, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

An additional observation which I have concluded without a 'research grant' -

If we all park our cars and walk there will be no more deaths from car accidents.

Posted by: dharper2 | February 18, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Actually, considering the enormous number of incompetents, alcoholics and drug abusers nationwide pumping out babies, only 113 annual deaths due to crib accidents is a stellar accomplishment.

The next great technological innovation will be to add lids to cribs. They could make them out of iron bars and have lockable swinging doors on the front. That would be much safer. Quite appropriate don't you think?

Posted by: wonderingstevie | February 20, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

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