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MD lawmakers considering ban on crib bumpers

So, where do you stand on the question of crib bumpers? A debate is raging in various quarters about whether the pads that run around the slats of a crib are a help to infant safety or a hazard that can lead to injury or wrongful death. The issue is getting the attention of lawmakers in Annapolis. They've looking at a proposal to ban the sale of pads starting in January 2013. If it passes, the state would be the first in the nation to block such sales.

The reason for the concern is a number of studies that show that the crib bumpers may contribute to children suffocating. Research suggests that sometimes infants roll over in their sleep. Their faces can become buried in the pads and they stop breathing. Maryland's chief medical examiner has attributed one such infant death to the pads.

The situation has already prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to issue a warning against using the bumper pads. The group says they don't do anything to protect a child from getting hurt in the crib, but it says children can get trapped in them, strangle on them, or even suffocate. The city of Chicago has already voted to ban pad sales.

Here in Maryland, a special panel of experts has concluded that while the risks may be very low, they are very real. Based on their advice, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene proposed banning pads as an "unnecessary risk to infants." Since then, some public hearings have been held on whether to press ahead with the ban, but more hearings are expected before a final decision.

Meanwhile, the association that represents the manufacturers of the crib pads is pushing back saying that the bumpers do prevent injuries to infant heads and limbs. It says it's also worried that a ban on pads will only push parents to replace the pads with towels, blankets or pillows.

Source: The Washington Post, "Md. Proposes ban on crib bumper sales," Dina ElBoghdady, Sept. 27, 2011

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