Recently, the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned the use and sale of drop-side cribs in the US. This certainly doesn’t bother me per se. I’m all for making any child product safer. However, this flury of news over the drop-side cribs is just so hypocritical! This is why;
Drop-side Cribs vs. Co-sleeping
The CPSC is one of the loudest squawkers about the dangers of babies sleeping in adult beds. Their campaign used the statistic that between 1999 and 2001, 180 babies under two died as a result of being in an adult bed. This statistic is based on an article published in Pediatrics that looked at all mechanical suffocation deaths during an 18 year period [Dorothy A. Drago and Andrew L. Dannenberg, “Infant Mechanical Suffocation Deaths in the United States, 1980-1997,” Pediatrics 103, no. 5 (1999): e59]. The actual number of deaths that happened in an adult bed during the 18 year period of the study is 139 or a little less than 8 deaths per year.
From the same study, there are 428 deaths that occurred in a crib or approximately 24 deaths per year. Based on this I’m glad that the CPSC has turned its attention to the much more prevalent deaths in cribs instead of focusing on cosleepers. However the number of deaths that prompted this most recent ban on drop-side cribs is 32 in 10 years. That’s a little more than 2 per year. So I’m left scratching my head at a regulatory agency that so indiscriminately decides to take action.
Of even more concern, one of the major producers and benefactors of anti-cosleeping propaganda is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents about 90 percent of crib manufacturers, is ducking any responsibility for deaths caused by these cribs. Here their rep is quoted as saying;
“When these products are used correctly, they’re perfectly safe,” said Mike Dwyer, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents about 90 percent of crib manufacturers. “Many of these incidents involved improper assembly. There are a lot of second-hand cribs sold through garage sales, thrift stores, and that’s a problem. They have missing hardware or missing instructions . . . Some parents and caregivers are using bailing wire and duct tape.”
So it is the parents fault. And yet, cosleeping deaths are lumped together – regardless of if the parent was drunk, sleeping on a sofa, or other known unsafe practices. Mr. Dwyer wants to push for better guidelines for proper assembly of their product but the do not under any circumstances want proper cosleeping habits to be circulated. The only answer for unsafe cosleeping is to put your baby in our safe crib.
Drop-side Cribs vs. Circumcision
Recently there has been a move in San Francisco to ban circumcision. The reaction in much of the comments range from disbelief to outrage at this “intrusion” on parental rights (of course, there are anti-genital mutilation activists in the mix as well). You can read my thoughts on this barbaric, and unnecessary cosmetic procedure here but the real question is why aren’t people upset that the government is forcing them to get rid of their oft expensive cribs? It must be because the cribs are so dangerous and circumcision is harmless right?
Ummm, no. So, there were 32 deaths in ten years due to these drop-side cribs or 2 per year. The estimated amount of deaths directly related to circumcision is 117 per year. Yes, PER YEAR in the US [THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90]. That means your child, if a boy, is 53 times more likely to die from a completely avoidable surgery than he is to suffocate in a poorly designed crib.
Drop-side Cribs vs. Vaccines
Vaccines are COMPLETELY safe. Dr. Offit says so. There is no possible way that children die due to vaccinations. No. Possible. Way.
How do the 32 deaths in 10 years stack up to vaccine-related deaths? Between 2000 and 2010 (to date) there have been 957 deaths in children under 2 reported to VAERS. This database is self-reporting and estimated by the CDC to capture only 10% of actual cases. But even if we take the numbers at face value that is 95 deaths each year in children under 2. This goes beyond the debate about vaccines causing things like ADHD and autism. This is verifiable deaths like Ian’s (warning: triggering images and story).
Once again, I’m not really upset that they are recalling cribs. Good for them for pulling something that might not be safe but I’m just dumbfounded at the contradictions and duplicity of these regulatory entities that are meant to protect us and the media coverage of different “alerts”! What is a conscientious mother to do? For me, I don’t take anything at face value. I read. I read some more. I draw my own conclusions and trust thousands of years of maternal instinct. Luckily my children’s stuffed animals are pretty safe in their non-drop-side crib down the hall far from where they sleep.
What are your thoughts on the crib recall?