Soft bedding and playpens: A dangerous combination

Report Finds Soft Bedding a Factor in Playpen Deaths. CPSC, Mattel Launch Campaign to Alert Caregivers

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a report on deaths in playpens. Since 1988, CPSC has reports of more than 200 babies who died while in playpens. In almost 100 of these deaths, soft bedding or improper or extra mattresses were present in the playpen and the babies died of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). More than 70 percent of these deaths were to babies less than 12 months old. Twenty-six of the playpen deaths occurred in a day-care setting.

Over the years, playpens, portable cribs and play yards have evolved into virtually identical products. Parents use playpens today as places for babies to both sleep and play. To educate caregivers, CPSC and Mattel, Inc. are launching a "Sleep Safe, Play Safe" campaign to address the two greatest hazards revealed by the study: 1) adding soft bedding and 2) adding extra mattresses or cushions.

For years, CPSC has warned about the dangers of soft bedding such as quilts, comforters and pillows in cribs. Soft bedding can become molded around an infant's face and cause suffocation. As many as one-third of baby deaths attributed to SIDS, in fact, may be suffocation in soft bedding.

"Many parents and caregivers know the dangers of soft bedding in cribs," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "This study shows, for the first time, that the same dangers exist when using pillows, quilts, and comforters in playpens."

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