Crib Bumpers Continue to Cause Infant Deaths: A Need for a New Preventive Approach

J Pediatr. 2016 Feb;169:93-7.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.10.050. Epub 2015 Nov 24.


Objectives: To assess whether clutter (comforters, blankets, pillows, toys) caused bumper deaths and provide an analysis of bumper-related incidents/injuries and their causal mechanisms.

Study design: Bumper-related deaths (January 1, 1985, to October 31, 2012) and incidents/injuries (January 1, 1990, to October 31, 2012) were identified from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) databases and classified by mechanism. Statistical analyses include mean age, 95% CIs, χ(2) test for trend, and ANOVA with a paired-comparisons information-criterion post hoc test for age differences among injury mechanisms.

Results: There were 3 times more bumper deaths reported in the last 7 years than the 3 previous time periods (χ(2)(3) = 13.5, P ≤ .01). This could be attributable to increased reporting by the states, diagnostic shift, or both, or possibly a true increase in deaths. Bumpers caused 48 suffocations, 67% by a bumper alone, not clutter, and 33% by wedgings between a bumper and another object. The number of CPSC-reported deaths was compared with those from the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, 2008-2011; the latter reported substantially more deaths than CPSC, increasing the total to 77 deaths. Injury mechanisms showed significant differences by age (F4,120 = 3.2, P < .001) and were caused by design, construction, and quality control problems. Eleven injuries were apparent life-threatening events.

Conclusion: The effectiveness of public health recommendations, industry voluntary standard requirements, and the benefits of crib bumper use were not supported by the data. Study limitations include an undercount of CPSC-reported deaths, lack of denominator information, and voluntary incident reports.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Death / etiology*
  • Infant Death / prevention & control
  • Infant Equipment / adverse effects*