A report published February 18 by Nationwide Children’s Hospital highlights the need for parents to be aware of the risk of crib injuries that sent 9500 children to the emergency department each year. The study was conducted from 1990 through 2008, revealing what researchers say are “unacceptably high” numbers of child injuries.
The findings also found there were 100 deaths associated with cribs, bassinets and playpens among children under age two.
The report comes from the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Gary Smith, MD, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy says, “Unlike other child products that require adult supervision for their safe use, cribs, playpens and bassinets must be held to a higher standard because we expect parents to leave their child unattended in them and walk away with peace of mind.”
In the study, 83 percent of injuries were from cribs as the result of soft tissue injury (34 percent) and concussion (21 percent).Forty percent of injuries were to the head, 28 percent to the face and two-thirds were from falls.
Smith, who is also a Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine says, “Despite the attention given to crib safety over the past two decades, the number of injuries and deaths associated with these products remains unacceptably high.” He explains there is a need for awareness and education, but even that isn’t enough to ensure child safety. He says products should be manufactured for maximum safety.
In recent years, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have focused on improving crib safety. The CPSC banned sale, lease and manufacturing of drop down cribs in June 2011 and issued recalls of more than 11 million cribs.
Parents and caregivers are urged to select cribs that are sturdy, meet safety standards and do not have a drop down side, and without decorative corners, cutouts and knobs that protrude more than 1/16 of an inch.
The ability to fit more than two fingers between the crib sides and the mattress means a bigger mattress is needed. Other tips include checking www.recalls.gov to see if your child’s crib has been recalled, following assembly instructions, and frequent inspection of cribs for loose parts.
It’s important to keep stuffed animals, bumpers and blankets out of the crib, avoid placing anything on top such as mesh or canopies, and avoid crib placement near windows where there are cords that could lead to injury or strangulation.
Children outgrow cribs at age 35 months, but follow the manufacturer’s suggestions. Mobiles and hanging toys should be removed when a child can push up onto his or her hands and knees. Once a child can stand, the mattress should be moved to the lowest position and the crib sides should be at least 28 inches above the mattress to avoid falls.
Other recommendations from Nationwide Children’s Hospital include using a firm mattress, accounting for all screws, and ensuring they are not protruding.
The research shows high numbers of injuries from cribs and bassinets that the study authors say require vigilance on the part of parents, caregivers and manufacturers. They note a crib is still the best place for a child to sleep, but more needs to be done to ensure there are no dangers to young children.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital