BALTIMORE - Maryland is preparing for a statewide ban on the sale of crib bumper pads, effective Friday.
The ban, developed by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) last November, was put in place following 18 months of expert and public consultation. The new policy also comes after the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health came out against the use of such bumper since they offer no significant benefit while posing serious risks to infants, including suffocation and death.
Dr, Scott Krugman, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, said the ban – the first state in the nation to do so – makes sense as research has shown there is no significant benefit in using bumpers with the chance of injury and/or death being significant.
"There's no real reason to have bumperson cribs," Dr. Krugman said. "When the industry examined the issue, no positives came from it, so why should there be there and place a baby at risk, especially when it may cause unnecessary deaths."
The ban on the sale of crib bumper pads is part of an ongoing public health effort to educate parents about safe sleep practices for babies, according to DHHM. The Department is distributing more than 200,000 cards and posters on safe sleep to WIC agencies and local health departments. The key message of this effort is that babies sleep best alone, on their back and in a crib free of blankets, pillows, fluffy toys, crib bumpers, or stuffed animals.
DHHM Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein said the ban applies to crib bumpers that are made of non-mesh type material, rest directly above the mattress along the length of each of the interior sides of the crib and are intended to be used until the age that an infant pulls to stand.
According to a DHHM news release, the Department will issue a warning to an individual who ships or sells crib bumper pads to a purchaser in Maryland. If there continues to be violation of the regulation after a warning is issued, a fine of up to $500 for each crib bumper shipped or sold can be assessed.
The proposed ban does not apply to vertical bumpers that wrap tightly around each individual crib rail or mesh crib liners. However, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene does not endorse any product for use as bumpers in infant cribs, the release continued.
"This is an incredibly important initiative," Dr. Sharfstein said. "This process took almost two years and research into the issue was not taken lightly. If something is being sold legally, yet can do harm there are mixed messages being sent. Our goal is to encourage safe sleeping practices for newborns and babies."
Additional information about safe sleep and the crib bumper ban, as well as the fact sheet containing the new safe sleep data, can be found at www.dhmh.maryland.gov/safesleep .