New warning about safety of sleep positioners

LOS ANGELES As new parents, Dee and Brian Smith want to take every precaution with their newborn. But they weren't sure what to do with an infant sleep positioner they got as a present.

"We got a device that had two foam pieces on the end to kind of keep her still," said Dee Smith. "It didn't look very comfortable."

"It seemed like a good idea because it would keep her head from moving or rolling around," said Brian Smith.

The FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning consumers to stop using the sleep positioners. Over the past 13 years, the agencies received 12 reports of infant deaths due to these devices.

"The danger of them outweighs any type of benefit they may have offered," said Dr. Richard Kang of Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

The babies, ranging in age from one to four months, died when they suffocated in the positioner or became trapped between the positioner and the side of a crib and then suffocated.

"The incidence of SIDS is highest in the first six months of life," said Dr. Kang. "The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics really in the first year of life is to have your child sleep on their back."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents follow the ABCs of sleep safety: Alone on my Back in a safe Crib.

"The recommendation is to keep the crib as empty as possible," said Dr. Kang. "Any object in the crib is a potential hazard for the baby."

The Smiths returned the sleep positioner they received and plan to follow the ABC recommendations right to the letter.

Neither CPSC or FDA has had any recalls of sleep positioners, but FDA deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein says to expect recalls in the future.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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