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Health Officials Warn Parents Against Usage of Bolsters for Infants

Update Date: Nov 22, 2012 08:01 AM EST

Health officials warn parents against using bolsters, used to keep sleeping babies on their backs, as they say that the pillows pose a threat of suffocation in infants. The warning comes after the number of deaths caused by the 'sleep positioners' rose to at least 13 U.S. infants recently.

Bolsters are long narrow pillows or cushions filled with cotton, down or fibre, and are used as bumpers in cribs.

Earlier in 2010, health officials had warned parents against the use of the devices and cracked down on manufacturers who claimed they could prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which claims more than 2,000 infants a year in the United States, Medical Xpress reported.

However, the 'sleep positioners' continue to remain in the market. The death from the bolsters all took place among babies aged between four months or younger, who were found to be suffocated after rolling from their side to their stomach.

Some of the infants were found to be trapped between the bolster and the side of the crib, the report said.

Apart from the 13 reported deaths since 1997, there have apparently been other cases received by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, where children were reportedly found in "hazardous positions within or next to the product."  

"We urge parents and caregivers to take our warning seriously and stop using these sleep positioners so children can be assured of a safe sleep," Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a statement.

Babies' cribs should also be kept free of pillows, comforters, quilts and toys, said Susan Cummins, a pediatric expert at the Food and Drug Administration.

"The safest crib is a bare crib," she said. "Always put your baby on his or her back to sleep. An easy way to remember this is to follow the ABC's of safe sleep-Alone on the Back in a bare Crib."

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