Consumers should stop using all inclined sleepers – even models that have not been recalled – because of the risk of accidental suffocation, federal safety regulators said Friday.
The warning from the Consumer Product Safety Commission comes after months of controversy over the popular infant-sleeping devices, which began in April with the recall of millions of Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘n Plays because of safety concerns and culminated in the release of a study two weeks ago that found the product’s design inherently dangerous.
The CPSC’s new warning applies to any sleeping device that allows babies to sleep at an angle greater than 10 degrees. Most inclined sleepers stood at about 30 degrees.
In addition to the Rock ‘n Play, inclined sleepers made by Kids II and Dorel Juvenile Group also have been recalled in recent months. They were pulled from the market and the companies are offering consumers some compensation.
But the new CPSC warning is not a recall. It is the agency’s response to a growing body of research about the safety of inclined sleepers and a surge in the number of deaths associated with the products. The agency said there were fewer than 40 deaths tied to the products in April. Now, that number has shot to 73 infant deaths.
The CPSC is also pushing for new federal rules that would essentially outlaw inclined sleepers by limiting the incline to 10 degrees. But the rulemaking process is expected to take at least several months. In the interim, the agency is advising parents to avoid the products.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has said inclined sleepers are unsafe for several years. The group recommends that babies sleep on a flat surface in a crib or bassinet. Prolonged sleep in bouncers or infant car seats is also not recommended.
The CPSC had been worried about deaths in inclined sleepers for at least a year before the Rock ‘n Play recall earlier this year. But agency staff struggled to explain why babies were dying in the product. A Washington Post investigation detailed how Fisher-Price invented the class of products without medical safety testing or input from a pediatrician.
Last month, a new study by University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences researchers found that babies are especially susceptible to suffocation in an inclined sleeper because the products makes it easier for babies to roll into an unsafe facedown position. The study examined how 10 infants moved in the devices and monitored their blood-oxygen levels.