Level of danger with cribs, playpens called "unacceptable"

March 4, 2011

Cribs and playpens are responsible for more than 9,000 child injuries per year in the United States.

Cribs and playpens are responsible for more than 9,000 child injuries per year in the United States.

As such, safety and design changes are needed, according to researchers who conducted a review of emergency department (ED) data over 19 years. Their review was published in the March issue of Pediatrics.

Researchers at the Center for Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, examined the US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to identify injuries related to cribs, playpens, and bassinets among children younger than 2 years who were treated in EDs from 1990 to 2008.

Over this time, there were 181,654 injuries documented, yielding an average of 9,561 per year, for an average of 12.14 injuries per 10,000 children younger than 2 years (about 26 per day). More than 80% of injuries involved cribs, and two-thirds involved falls. The percentage of injuries attributed to falls increased with age, from 38.1% of injuries suffered by children younger than 1 month through age 5 months to 74.4% of injuries for children 18 to 23 months old. The most commonly injured body region in falls was the head or neck.

Children younger than 6 months were almost 3 times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of their injuries than older children.An average of 113 crib-related deaths occurred annually; consistent with previous studies, the researchers implicate soft bedding as a contributing factor to many of the deaths with infants in a prone position.

Constant supervision when children are in a crib or playpen is unreasonable, they write, therefore “automatic, or passive, prevention measures through improved product design must be achieved to effectively protect young children in sleep environments.”

Yeh ES, Rochette LM, McKenzie, LB, Smith GA. Injuries associated with cribs playpens, and bassinets among young children in the US, 1990-2008. Pediatrics. 2011;127(3):479-486.