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Perhaps this is a case where the cure is as bad as the disease. The infant sleep positioners sometimes used by parents to keep babies sleeping on their backs can cause suffocation, according to the FDA. It has been reported that at least 12 children have suffocated in the past 13 years, leading the agency to say the sleep positioners are not safe.
The New York Times reports that in addition to the reports of actual infant deaths, other dangerous situations have occurred where babies have been found in hazardous positions within or next to the sleep positioners. The positioners are made of flat or slanted mats surrounded by bolsters. It is well known that babies who sleep on their backs are at less risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The producers of the sleep positioners claim they can help keep babies on their backs during sleep.
However, The Times reports there has never been a statement from the FDA approving the products as safe for this use. In addition, the agency has said it was not aware of studies that have shown the sleep positioners were proven to prevent suffocation, SIDS or other life-threatening incidents.
“To date, there is no scientifically sound evidence that infant sleep positioners prevent SIDS,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the F.D.A.’s principal deputy commissioner.
The recommended ways to prevent SIDS or suffocation in infants is to put babies to sleep on their backs on a firm surface and away from loose blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals.