Maryland officials want to ban the sale of crib bumpers, a move that would make the state the first in the nation to do so.

This morning, The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene proposed that the ban take effect in January 2013. “Our priority is the health of infants in Maryland,” Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of DHMH, said in a statement issued by the department. “We agree with our expert advisors that based on all available evidence, these products pose an unnecessary risk to infants.” 

The statement went on to say: “The Department reviewed all comments, documents and transcripts from the meetings, and determined that the risk of death from crib bumper pads, while rare, is real, and is not offset by commensurate benefits.”

The Maryland DHMH proposal is still in the “informal” stage. There will still be a period for public comment and working out several kinks, including exactly what type of bumper to ban and how they would be enforced. There’s no road map to follow. Chicago proceeded Maryland by only a few days in issuing a ban, but that, too, has yet to be enacted.

I’ve been writing about this issue recently, in a post earlier today and one a few months back that laid out the reasons why so many health officials advise against crib bumpers. To recap: Padded bumpers attach inside the slats of cribs and if an infant rolls into a padded corner of his crib, he may not have the physical ability to move his face away.

The suffocation risk is easily avoidable. Don’t buy the bumpers. But parents have not gotten that message. Industry supporters insist that bumpers prevent other sorts of harm to babies whose limbs might get stuck in between crib slats. New parents, too, can sometimes come to the mistaken conclusion that their babies will be more comfortable in a cozy, padded crib.

They problem with this conclusion is that those babies will be at a higher risk of injury. Babies should sleep Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib, according to health experts. They call it the “ABCs” of sleep safety.

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