February 17, 2011

Crib Injuries Affect Almost 10,000 Children Yearly

Studying 19 years of ER data, researchers claim better prevention efforts are needed to reduce the almost 10,000 crib and playpen accidents each year according to the first nationwide analysis of emergency room treatment for these injuries, AP is reporting.

Recent safety measures including a ban on drop-side cribs likely will reduce those numbers. Most injuries were from toddlers between ages 1 and 2 falling from the cribs. The study found a gradual decrease in the injury rate between 1990 and 2008.

In the most recent years examined, an average of 26 infants daily were injured in crib-related accidents, said lead author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "That's still not acceptable," Smith said Wednesday to AP.

Released early Thursday by the American Academy of Pediatrics' medical journal Pediatrics, the study was timed for a US House subcommittee hearing Thursday on consumer product safety issues where cribs are expected to come up, said Dr. O. Marion Burton, the academy's president.

Opposing loosening of crib regulations, the doctors' group is concerned that the industry may seek to roll back parts of a 2008 law. Burton said the new study, "scientifically validated with peer review," explains why a rollback would be unwise.

Analyzing national 1990-2008 data on ER-treated injuries from the product safety commission, the authors of the study focused on nonfatal injuries related to cribs, playpens and bassinets; no information on injuries linked with specific models was provided.

Although most children were not hospitalized, 181,654 infants were injured overall. The data shows 2,140 deaths, however this does not include crib-related deaths in children who did not receive hospital treatment.

Parents can help prevent injuries, Smith explains, by lowering the crib's mattress when children grow tall enough to lean over the rails, or, with drop-side cribs, not leaving children unattended when the side is lowered. Children should be moved to toddler beds when they reach 35 inches tall, he said.

The 2008 law called for mandatory crib standards including more rigorous safety testing. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted the mandate in December, to take effect this June.

Banning the manufacture and sale of traditional drop-side, the standards mandate cribs with side rails that move up and down. Drop-side rails can become partially detached, creating a gap between the mattress and rail where children can become stuck. Millions of such cribs have been recalled after dozens of injuries and deaths including suffocations linked with drop-side cribs leading to the ban were reported.

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association spokeswoman Amy Chezem told AP Wednesday that her industry group supports the 2008 law, but that some provisions "are overly burdensome" and need to be reexamined.

Adding that crib makers adopted a voluntary ban on drop-side models more than a year ago, she would, "like to see a reasonable enforcement policy" from the safety commission. The industry group has said that properly assembled drop-side cribs that haven't been recalled can be safely used.


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