Inflatable Mattresses a Danger to Infants

June 20, 2017

Between 2004 and 2015, 108 infants died due to sleeping on inflatable mattresses. The number of deaths is comparatively small, considering that in 2015, 900 infants died due to suffocation or strangulation in beds. However, inflatable mattresses may pose a greater risk, because parents may be unaware those mattresses are unsafe for babies.

Two researchers reviewed policies from 12 organizations, including healthcare groups and federal agencies, and found that only one organization had issued a policy statement about the dangers of putting infants to sleep on air mattresses.

Air mattresses are intended to be used temporarily – for example, while camping or accommodating an overnight guest. But low-income families are increasingly using air mattresses as regular bedding, because they’re inexpensive.

Even though air mattresses do have warning labels saying they’re not suitable for infants, families may forget that information if they’re using air mattresses every day. Another danger is a lack of communication – if the person inflating the mattress saw the warning but didn’t fully read it or forgot to mention it, other family members may be unaware of the risks.

Safe Sleeping Conditions for Infants

Safe to Sleep is a public education campaign from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The campaign offers free educational materials for parents and healthcare providers that explain safe and unsafe sleeping conditions for babies. The campaign says:

  • Babies should sleep in a safe crib, with a firm mattress.
  • Caregivers should ensure the crib is free of all objects – no bed linens, other than a fitted sheet, should be inside the crib.
  • Babies should sleep in sleeper clothing that doesn’t have a hood.
  • Babies should be placed in cribs on their backs, not their stomachs.
  • Infant cribs should be in the parents’ bedroom.
  • Infants should never sleep in a regular bed, on a couch, or in a chair.

Another important factor in making sure babies stay safe while sleeping is the degree to which parents or caregivers can detect and react to an emergency. Parents under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be ill equipped to act when a baby has stopped breathing. And one study has found that alcohol consumption does appear to raise the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, which includes deaths from suffocation. Researchers said it wasn’t exactly clear how alcohol increases the risk of SIDS, but one reason could be that intoxicated parents may be more likely to disregard safe sleeping standards for infants.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says air mattresses are too soft to serve as bedding for infants, and if a baby rolls onto its stomach while sleeping, the divots on the mattress surface could entrap the face. Most infants who have died sleeping on air mattresses were younger than eight months.

Safe Cribs

The CPSC introduced new safety standards for cribs in 2011, requiring manufacturers to improve hardware quality, strengthen crib slats and mattress supports, and conduct rigorous safety testing. The new standards also prohibit the manufacture or sale of drop-side cribs, which have sidewalls that open – a risk of entrapment and suffocation for infants. Consumers who own drop-side cribs should check the CPSC website – many crib manufacturers began offering free immobilizers in 2011 that ensure the crib walls cannot open.

If you have any questions about this topic or believe that a mattress or crib caused harm to your baby, the attorneys at Wapner Newman can help. For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countlesspersonal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling 1-800-529-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form.