Sen. Hicks files “Safe Sleep Act” to protect infants
Mike Seals - December 10, 2020 10:05 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, is continuing her efforts to protect Oklahoma’s infants by filing legislation to ban the sale of crib bumpers and prohibit their use in hotels and other places of public accommodation. The Department of Human Services (DHS) already prohibits their use in childcare facilities in the state. She says Senate Bill 98, the “Safe Sleep Act,” will help reduce the risk of infant suffocation and strangulation.
“While marketed as a crib decoration and safety feature, studies have continually shown that crib bumpers are extremely dangerous to babies and can cause suffocation, strangulation and injuries,” Hicks said. “Dozens of infants have died from rolling into bumpers and not being able to get away or getting tangled in them. New federal safety guidelines on crib designs, especially the slats, have made bumpers unnecessary. We need to protect Oklahoma’s babies and ban these dangerous and unnecessary products.”
The bill allows exceptions in childcare facilities and places of public accommodation if a medical professional determines use of a bumper is medically necessary for a specific child.
Currently, crib bumpers are banned in at least three states – Maryland, Ohio and New York – and in the city of Chicago. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns against the use of crib bumpers, citing that sleep-related suffocation is the leading cause of infant injury death.
In March, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) unanimously approved a proposed federal safety standard rule prohibiting the sale of padded, pillow-like bumpers that fail to meet minimum air flow requirements.
N.J. Scheers, Ph.D., a former manager of the CPSC’s Infant Suffocation Project, found in her 2016 study of CPSC databases that between 1985 and 2012, 48 babies died from suffocation attributed to bumpers. Of those deaths, 67% were caused solely by the bumper rather than other items in the crib and the other 33% were caused by the infants getting wedged in between a bumper and another object. When she compared the CPSC-reported deaths to those from the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths for 2008-2011, the total deaths increased to 77.
“I think people would be shocked to know that crib bumpers are not required to be safety-tested by the government and are subject only to voluntary industry standards,” Hicks said. “There have been too many senseless and preventable deaths caused by bumpers. It’s heartbreaking to think that parents are misled to think they’re doing something to protect their baby when in fact they could be putting their child’s life in danger.”
Bumpers also do not adhere to safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recommends that babies sleep on their backs, alone, unrestrained, on a firm, flat surface, free of padding, bumpers, and other soft bedding.