A Danger Families Learn About In The Most Devastating Way

10:00 PM, Sep 27, 2011   |    comments
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BALTIMORE, Md., (WUSA) -- Tuesday, key leaders in Maryland announced that the state would become the first in the union to ban the sale of crib bumpers. 

You may even have one in your home.  But, some safety advocates say these nursery decorations come with some hidden dangers.

Dangers, families across the country are learning about in the most devastating way.  And one Arkansas family hopes you will learn from their pain. 

"Preston was so serious, but yet wanted to be held all the time.  Preston was very lovey dovey and affectionate," says his mom Laura Maxwell.

Laura and Kyle Maxwell were just getting to know their baby boy.  Big sister, Emma, marveled at Preston's tiny fingers and toes. 

Then, one April night, the unthinkable happened.

"I went directly into his room and found him with his face up against the bumper pad," says Laura Maxwell. 

Kyle had a bad feeling about the eerie quiet coming from Preston's room.  He knew something was wrong and called out to Laura.

"He's dead!  He's dead! He's screaming at the top of his lungs," she says.

Preston was just seven weeks old.  The medical examiner's report says he suffocated when his tiny head got lodged between the crib bumper and the mattress.   Somehow, he rolled out of his sleep positioner and into something his parents thought would protect him. 

Laura says, "Getting to know a child and then having them ripped from you, it's the most devastating thing that can happen to you."

The Maxwell's assumed the bumper they bought was safe.  They had no idea a Washington University professor had used data from the government to make a startling conclusion about the nursery decoration.

Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that Dr. Bradley Thach used to suggest that bumper pads were to blame for the deaths of 27 babies over a 10 year period.

"Bumper pads have really become obsolete.  There's really no need for them," says Dr. Rachel Moon.

The pediatrician is a leading researcher at Children's National Medical Center, and has reviewed some of those cases.

"For this to happen, ironically, because you were trying to keep your baby safe, I think it just is a horrible tragedy," she says.

And it can happen in an instant.

"A baby could roll into the side of the bumper and then actually get stuck that way.  and, particularly a young baby may not have the ability to push against the bumper pad, and push themselves away," Dr. Moon says.

As the debate goes on about crib bumpers and safety, the Maxwells try to move forward.  And, they want other parents to know that bumpers and babies don't mix.

Preston doesn't have a voice anymore, and I'm now that voice.  I want parents to hear our story, to hear about the loss and the pain that we've gone through," says Laura Maxwell.

The Maxwells are suing the manufacturer of the bumper and sleep positioner Preston was in the night he died.

The companies have denied the complaint in federal court.

The Maxwells hope their suit will lead to change.  In spite of their tragic loss, doctors say the safest place for a baby is in a crib, but remember bare is best.

So, the message is to remember your ABC's when it comes to a baby. 

The baby should sleep Alone.

The baby should sleep on its Back.

And, the baby should sleep in a Crib.

A Parent's Guide To Sleep Safety

Maryland is seeking out public comments as it decides how to move forward.  Those comments should be submitted by November 4, 2011 to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The comments will help the state task force as it outlines what could become a formal proposal for regulation.

If you'd like to comment email it to regs@dhmh.state.md.us.

For now, health officials are pushing on with a public education campaign about safe sleeping environments for babies.

Maryland's Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. David Fowler says it's important for parents to know that babies can suffocate and die even if their noses or mouths are not covered by a bumper pad, toy or blanket. 

Fowler says simply being close to an object can slow the air movement and lead to a slow refresh rate of the oxygen a baby needs to survive.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association believes bumper pads, when used correctly, can protect children.

And, that parents should have the right to choose what products they use for their baby.

The organization says it is concerned about the unintended consequences of regulations that restrict products used for cribs.


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