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Inclined Sleepers Still Being Sold Despite Links to Rising Number of Infant Deaths

Marsha Takeda-Morrison
Infant-sleeper-deaths-2

Twenty20

Parents, we know you love your inclined sleepers, but you may be putting your baby at risk.

Consumer Reports (CR) is warning parents and caregivers that at least 50 infant deaths have been tied to inclined sleep products such as the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper. This is up from the previous count of 37, as outlined in an earlier CR investigative report.

fisher-price-recall-baby-rock-n-play

Although Fisher-Price and sleepers under the Kids II brand were recently recalled, several manufacturers – including Baby Delight, Evenflo and Hiccapop – continue to sell similar products that pose the same risks.

Now, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is coming under fire for not taking action against those products.

“CPSC sends parents a dangerous message by allowing other inclined sleep products to remain on the market,” warned Dr. Ben Hoffman, chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention executive committee.

Hoffman made his remarks at a recent CPSC hearing and advised that the CPSC should “eliminate this product category altogether so these deadly products are no longer available.”

According to the AAP, the danger with these products is in their design, which has babies sleeping at an incline between 10 degrees and 30 degrees. Those angles make airway compression and suffocation more likely.

Several organizations – AAP, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau – all advise that babies should sleep on their backs, alone, unrestrained, and on a firm, flat surface free of bumpers and other soft bedding.

The sleepers are so popular because many parents believe they help babies with reflux, but experts say this isn’t true and that letting infants sleep in these products is putting them at serious risk.

Research has shown that sleeping on an incline can allow a baby’s head to fall forward and compress the neck and airway. This can cause a drop in oxygen, lowered heart rate and suffocation. And because babies lack the strong muscle control in their necks, they might be unable to lift their heads up to restore air to their lungs. Restraints add to the dangers by increasing the risk of strangulation and entrapment.

CR says manufacturers are ignoring these warnings. They are also accusing CPSC of not adequately testing products and of relying on the advice of questionable medical professionals.

From Consumer Reports:

The documents show that as Fisher-Price developed its product, the only medical expert the company consulted was Gary Deegear, M.D., of San Antonio, who was a family practice physician, not a pediatrician or sleep specialist.

In the years following his work on the Rock ’n Play Sleeper, Deegear failed to renew his medical license, according to the Texas Medical Board’s website. And when the board later learned that Deegar continued to treat patients without a license at several medical spas, sometimes while he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it issued a cease-and-desist order forbidding him from acting "in the guise of a physician."

With manufacturers and the CPSC stalling on action, it appears some members of Congress are stepping in. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have introduced legislation that would prohibit the manufacture, import and sale of infant inclined sleep products.

In a House hearing on June 13, Congressman Cárdenas called out manufacturers for continuing to push these products on the public. “As a grandparent, it’s just appalling,” he said.

According to Consumer Reports, here are inclined sleepers to avoid. If you have any of them, CR advises that you request a refund or throw it away.

  • Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play Sleeper (Already recalled)
  • Kids II Rocking Sleepers, such as the Ingenuity Moonlight Rocking Sleeper (Already recalled)
  • Evenflo Pillo Portable Napper (Recalled in Canada)
  • Hiccapop DayDreamer
  • Baby Delight Go With Me
  • Baby Delight Nestle Nook Comfort - Plush Infant Napper
  • SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleeper (made by Sumr Brands)

In addition, CR advises parents to avoid these inclined products that should not be used for infant sleep:

  • Graco Duet Glide LX Gliding Swing
  • Graco DreamGlider Gliding Seat & Sleeper
  • Nuna Leaf Grow Bouncer