Death From Infant Sleep Positioners

William T. Basco, Jr., MD, MS


May 01, 2013

Suffocation Deaths Associated With Use of Infant Sleep Positioners -- United States, 1997-2011

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012;46:933-937

Infant Sleep Positioners

Infant sleep positioners are marketed to the public with several health claims, including an overall improvement in sleep quality as well as prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Few of these devices have US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, and those that do are designed for the prevention of gastroesophageal reflux or for the treatment of plagiocephaly. None has a specific indication for prevention of SIDS.

Study Summary

This article summarizes 13 cases of suffocation associated with infant sleep positioners reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission over the study period. The infants were generally very young, with a mean age of 9.5 weeks. The median age was 3 months, and only 1 infant was 4 months old. Of the 13 cases, 8 (62%) were boys, 4 (31%) had been born prematurely, 3 (23%) had a twin, and 4 (31%) had recent respiratory symptoms. Nine of the infants had been placed on their sides to sleep, and 1 infant was placed prone. Several of the sleep positioners had a warning label instructing parents to discontinue use of the device once the child began to move around during sleep. The study authors comment that since 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against positioning infants on their sides for sleep.[1]