In a setback to the children's product industry, the American Academy of Pediatricsrecommended Tuesday that parents stop using all bumper pads in cribs because of the risks to infants.
The academy previously warned only against pillow-like versions of these cushions attached to crib slats. Last month, Chicago banned the sale of all bumpers, and Maryland health officials proposed a statewide ban.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission said 52 infant deaths involved bumpers from 1990 to May 2010, but bumpers weren't always to blame.
In April, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Associationreleased its own report that refuted the causes of deaths in a previous report and claimed bumpers prevent injuries to children from limbs getting trapped in slats.
AAP said there is "no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment."
Instead of a ban, JPMA wants a voluntary standard to set a maximum thickness for traditional bumpers. JPMA's Lauren Pfeiffer says the vast majority of bumpers on the market are not pillow-like.
But Nancy Cowles, executive director of the children's product safety group Kids In Danger, says there's "no evidence that the traditional ones were any less likely to cause suffocation than the fatter ones." Cowles' group has worked with two families of infants who died with traditional bumpers.
Early this year, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum asked the commission's staff to review its files and studies to take a "fresh look" at crib bumpers, says spokesman Scott Wolfson.
The commission also plans to set up an expert panel to analyze the staff's findings so parents have confidence in any recommendation CPSC makes, he says.
At least $50 million worth of infant bedding sets that include bumpers are sold each year, along with more than 200,000 bumper pad sets, JPMA says.
"Our fear is that the recommended elimination of bumpers from the marketplace will lead to unintended consequences and may encourage parents to use towels, adult blankets or pillows as a protective barrier from the hard wooden surface of the crib slats," saysMichael Dwyer, who is executive director of JPMA.
Bedding makers that are members of JPMA will continue to offer traditional bumper pads, says Dwyer.
Cowles says that's a mistake: "All major safety and health groups now agree - bumpers are an unnecessary and dangerous crib accessory."