Almost 10,000 infants and toddlers are hurt in crib and playpen accidents each year, according to the first nationwide analysis of emergency room treatment for these injuries.
Most were from falls by children from ages 1 to 2 — generally old enough to attempt climbing out of a crib or playpen.
Researchers who studied 19 years of ER data say that better prevention efforts are needed but that recent safety measures including a ban on drop-side cribs likely will reduce those numbers.
The study found a gradual decrease in the injury rate from 1990 to 2008. But overall, even in the most recent years examined, an average of 26 infants daily were injured in crib-related accidents, said the study's lead author, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The study was released early today by the American Academy of Pediatrics' medical journal Pediatrics. The release was timed for a U.S. House subcommittee hearing on consumer product safety issues where cribs are expected to come up, said Dr. O. Marion Burton, the academy's president.
The doctors' group opposes loosening crib regulations and is concerned that the industry may seek to roll back parts of a 2008 law. Burton said the new study, "scientifically validated with peer review," shows why a rollback would be unwise.
The 2008 law called for mandatory crib standards including more rigorous safety testing. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted the mandate in December, to take effect in June.
It bans the manufacture and sale of traditional drop-side cribs with side rails that move up and down to make it easier to place and remove infants. Dozens of injuries and deaths including suffocations linked with drop-side cribs led to the ban; millions of such cribs have been recalled.