Talking Points: A fact sheet for when talking to the media or other parents
When talking to the media or other parents about the recent CPSC findings, it may be helpful to use the information below to guide you.
Why the CPSC's information is wrong.
1. Poor Data. The CPSC's data was extracted from death certificates, coroner's reports and other non-clinical sources. These records are notoriously inaccurate and often rely on the subjective judgment of the person filling out the form. When researchers (not associated with the CPSC) examined the records used in an earlier CPSC study, they found great variation in the way that causes of death are reported (O'Hara et al. (2000) Pediatrics, 105:915-917). When infants were found in cribs, it was more likely to be labeled as SIDS, whereas infants found in an adult bed were more often called "overlying."
In addition, there is a significant amount of information which, though pertinent to determining the cause of death, is not included on death records. The CPSC's most recent data, for instance, indicates that 22% of the deaths reported "involved asphyxiation." They go on to admit that "no other information was available." These deaths cannot conclusively be attributed to bed hazards because it is not really clear what happened.
2. No Comparison Data. There is no information about how many parents safely co-sleep with their children. As a result, we do not know the relative risk of sleeping with an infant. In other words, if millions of parents co-slept without incident, then 60 per year is a relatively small number.
In addition, there is no mention of the number of children who died in cribs during the same time period. Some estimates indicate that 900 infants died in cribs last year, yet there is no move by the CPSC to ban cribs because children have died in them. They instead, endeavor to make the cribs safer. The very same approach can be taken with co-sleeping. When parents who do not using drugs or abuse alcohol co-sleep with their infant on a firm mattress without fluffy bedding, the environment can be optimal for both infant and the parent.
3. Does Not Distinguish the Hazards of the Sleeping Environment. The CPSC's data contains no additional information about the condition of the parent during the time of the infant's death. Parents who abuse drugs or alcohol, take certain over-the-counter medications or are depressed may have a reduced ability to awaken if the infant is in distress. In addition, parents who smoke and sleep with their babies have a significantly higher risk of the baby dying of SIDS. These factors have nothing to do with the safety of the bed, but the safety of the adult.
The CPSC study also does not distinguish between nighttime co-sleeping (i.e. with an adult present) and naptime in an adult bed (i.e. without an adult). In previous studies, sleeping on a couch (which is known to be hazardous) was included in the data.
4. Conflict of Interest. The CPSC's report was undertaken in partnership with the Juvenile Product Manufacturing Association - crib manufacturers. It is likely that, as a result of their report, many worried parents will be running out to buy cribs and the accompanying products like bedding, monitors, mobiles, etc. The CPSC has no business helping an industry sell products. Their mission should be solely to assure the safety of those products.
For more information, please contact:
Attachment Parenting International