BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month, and the designation brings to light the three infant deaths that happen each week in the state caused by the sleep-related condition.
Sudden infant death syndrome, more commonly known as SIDS, is the unexplained death of a healthy baby – less than one year old.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, sleep-related suffocation is the leading cause of infant injury death.
Experts say infants should be sleeping in a bare crib with just a fitted sheet without baby bumpers. Baby bumpers are soft bedding material that are marketed to protect infants from hitting their head on the side of the crib, but experts say they cause more harm than good.
Stephanie Weigel with Akron Children’s Hospital said babies roll against the bumpers and then can’t roll away.
“They are soft, they are cushy, and they can pose a suffocation, strangulation or entrapment risk,” Weigel said.
The Journal of Pediatrics says there have been 27 accidental deaths attributed to baby bumper pads.
Ohio lawmakers saw a need to legislate the sale and distribution of the bumper pads and passed Senate Bill 332, which bans the sale of non-mesh crib bumpers. The ban also includes online sales and delivery of bumper pads in Ohio as well.
Ohio and Maryland are the only two states so far that have passed laws on the bumper pads.
“All the stores here in the Valley have complied. If you walk through Babies R Us, Target or Walmart or any of the other stores that sell infant sleep related items, you’ll notice that their cribs are now void of bumper pads,” Weigel said.
Stores can still sell mesh baby bumpers for three more years. They are made with breathable fabric. After three years, lawmakers will decide if the ban should include the mesh design as well.
Since Ohio and Maryland are the only two states with baby bumper laws, they can still be purchased in neighboring Pennsylvania, which Weigel says is a concern. She suggest parents weigh the research and understand that there haven’t been any serious injuries from babies hitting their crib railings.
While the online sales of bumper pads is banned in Ohio, WKBN First News reporter and meteorologist Alex George went to a few online shopping sites and was able to successfully enter a shipping address for Ohio, showing that enforcement of that part of the law needs more work.