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Our file 05-100287-569
August 17, 2005
Mechanical and Electrical Hazards Division
Consumer Product Safety Bureau
Health Canada does not recommend the use of bumper pads in cribs because they pose an entanglement, entrapment, strangulation, and suffocation hazard to infants.
Between 1987 and 2001, 23 incidents involving bumper pads were reported to Health Canada, including one strangulation death, one suffocation death, and three near-suffocation occurrences.
The presence of bumper pads in a crib may also be a contributing factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). These products may reduce the flow of oxygen rich air to the infant in the crib. Furthermore, proposed theories indicate that the rebreathing of carbon dioxide plays a role in the occurrence of SIDS.Footnote 1
The Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Institute of Child Health, and the Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths have also issued statements advising against the use of bumper pads.
Bumper pads have been on the market for many years and a number of reasons are cited to promote their use:
However, when used correctly, bumper pads should not protect infants from bumping against the sides of a crib or from having limbs become entrapped between the slats of the crib. This is because bumper pads are supposed to be removed from the crib by the time that the infant is able to roll over and sit up unaided (a development milestone normally reached between 4 and 8 months of age), which represents the same time frame in which it is expected that the infant would be able to move over and approach the side of the crib.
(It must also be noted that, for the most part, infants do not sustain major injuries from banging their heads against the sides of their cribs because they are incapable of generating enough force to seriously injure themselves through head banging. The frontal bone, which is the part of the head most frequently struck during crib head banging, is the thickest bone in the body and therefore, is capable of absorbing the shock associated with this type of behaviour.
It should also be noted that it remains possible for an infant to entrap his or her limbs over or under the bumper pads and that infant limb entrapment [between the slats of a crib], in the vast majority of cases, results in no injury or minor injury, such as bruising.)
In summary, aesthetic value, the risk of limb entrapment, and the risk of a child hitting their head against the side of their crib are overshadowed by the hazards of entanglement, entrapment, strangulation, and suffocation (potentially leading to death) that children are exposed to through the use of bumper pads.
Health Canada has identified the following safety hazards associated with the use of bumper pads:
Manufacturers, distributers, and retailers of bumper pads should ensure that the following minimum safety specifications are met:
"To prevent entanglement or strangulation, position ties to outside of crib and be sure they are secure. Remove bumper pads when child can sit up unaided"
The use of bumper pads may expose young children to the hazards of entanglement, entrapment, strangulation, and suffocation.
Accordingly, it is the position of Health Canada that bumper pads compromise the safety of children with negligible perceived benefits. Therefore, Health Canada recommends that the Canadian public discontinue the use of these products. Bumper pads that continue to be bought and sold on the Canadian market should meet the minimum safety recommendations outlined in this policy.
For your information,
Sheila Davidson / Megan Fairfull
First Candle/SIDS Alliance. Rebreathing Carbon Dioxide and Suffocation as They Relate to SIDS. 08 Apr. 2005. 25 May 2005
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F1917-00 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification For Infant Bedding and Related Accessories. West Conshohoken, PA: American Society for Testing and Materials, 2000.