Effectiveness of measures to prevent unintentional deaths of infants and children from suffocation and strangulation

Public Health Rep. Mar-Apr 1985;100(2):231-40.


Unintentional deaths from suffocation and strangulation account for about 20 percent of all nontransport-related infant and child fatalities in the United States. In the late 1950s, some preventive countermeasures were introduced to reduce the number of deaths resulting from refrigerator or freezer entrapment. A few years later, countermeasures were introduced to prevent deaths resulting from suffocation by plastic bags, inhumation, and mechanical strangulation from wedging in infant cribs. For three of these major causes of suffocation and strangulation deaths among infants and children (refrigerator or freezer entrapment, suffocation by plastic bag, and inhumation at construction sites), there appears to have been a significant decline in incidence; however, there is no evidence of a significant reduction in deaths from mechanical strangulation in cribs. The impact of current countermeasures is discussed, and some suggestions for new or modified approaches are made.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Adolescent
  • Asphyxia / epidemiology
  • Asphyxia / etiology
  • Asphyxia / prevention & control*
  • Beds / standards
  • California
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Household Articles / standards
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Legislation as Topic
  • Plastics / adverse effects


  • Plastics