Washington Post

Dozens of infant deaths have been tied to a popular baby product. But regulators are too paralyzed to act

While industry officials contend crib bumpers are supposed to protect babies, they are linked to dozens of infant deaths, and the American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents not to use them. Foto: Washington Post photo by Marvin Joseph

A paralyzing conflict inside the nation's product safety regulator has prevented the agency from taking action against a popular baby product that studies have linked to at least 48 infant deaths over 27 years and that public health officials say should be banned, according to a Washington Post investigation.

The cause of the breakdown is a small team inside the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that does not believe the product - padded crib bumpers - played a role in most, if any, of the infants' deaths, derailing the agency's attempts to regulate or ban crib bumpers. The position of the CPSC's health sciences directorate, charged with assessing product risks, is opposed by pediatricians and safety advocates and contradicted by medical studies. It also has led senior officials at the CPSC to question whether their own scientists are producing reliable research about the risks of infant sleep products...

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