Drop-side Cribs, Penises, and Vaccines

Recently, the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned the use and sale of drop-side cribs in the US.  This certainly doesn’t bother me per se.  I’m all for making any child product safer.  However, this flury of news over the drop-side cribs is just so hypocritical!  This is why;

Drop-side Cribs vs. Co-sleeping

The CPSC is one of the loudest squawkers about the dangers of babies sleeping in adult beds.  Their campaign used the statistic that between 1999 and 2001, 180 babies under two died as a result of being in an adult bed. This statistic is based on an article published in Pediatrics that looked at all mechanical suffocation deaths during an 18 year period [Dorothy A. Drago and Andrew L. Dannenberg, "Infant Mechanical Suffocation Deaths in the United States, 1980-1997," Pediatrics 103, no. 5 (1999): e59].  The actual number of deaths that happened in an adult bed during the 18 year period of the study is 139 or a little less than 8 deaths per year.

From the same study, there are 428 deaths that occurred in a crib or approximately 24 deaths per year.  Based on this I’m glad that the CPSC has turned its attention to the much more prevalent deaths in cribs instead of focusing on cosleepers.  However the number of deaths that prompted this most recent ban on drop-side cribs is 32 in 10 years.  That’s a little more than 2 per year.  So I’m left scratching my head at a regulatory agency that so indiscriminately decides to take action.

Of even more concern, one of the major producers and benefactors of anti-cosleeping propaganda is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents about 90 percent of crib manufacturers, is ducking any responsibility for deaths caused by these cribs.  Here their rep is quoted as saying;

“When these products are used correctly, they’re perfectly safe,” said Mike Dwyer, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents about 90 percent of crib manufacturers. “Many of these incidents involved improper assembly. There are a lot of second-hand cribs sold through garage sales, thrift stores, and that’s a problem. They have missing hardware or missing instructions . . . Some parents and caregivers are using bailing wire and duct tape.”

So it is the parents fault.  And yet, cosleeping deaths are lumped together – regardless of if the parent was drunk, sleeping on a sofa, or other known unsafe practices.  Mr. Dwyer wants to push for better guidelines for proper assembly of their product but the do not under any circumstances want proper cosleeping habits to be circulated.  The only answer for unsafe cosleeping is to put your baby in our safe crib.

Drop-side Cribs vs. Circumcision

Recently there has been a move in San Francisco to ban circumcision. The reaction in much of the comments range from disbelief to outrage at this “intrusion” on parental rights (of course, there are anti-genital mutilation activists in the mix as well).  You can read my thoughts on this barbaric, and unnecessary cosmetic procedure here but the real question is why aren’t people upset that the government is forcing them to get rid of their oft expensive cribs?  It must be because the cribs are so dangerous and circumcision is harmless right?

Ummm, no.  So, there were 32 deaths in ten years due to these drop-side cribs or 2 per year.  The estimated amount of deaths directly related to circumcision is 117 per year.  Yes, PER YEAR in the US [THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90].  That means your child, if a boy, is 53 times more likely to die from a completely avoidable surgery than he is to suffocate in a poorly designed crib.

Drop-side Cribs vs. Vaccines

Vaccines are COMPLETELY safe.  Dr. Offit says so.  There is no possible way that children die due to vaccinations.  No. Possible. Way.

How do the 32 deaths in 10 years stack up to vaccine-related deaths?  Between 2000 and 2010 (to date) there have been 957 deaths in children under 2 reported to VAERS.  This database is self-reporting and estimated by the CDC to capture only 10% of actual cases.  But even if we take the numbers at face value that is 95 deaths each year in children under 2.  This goes beyond the debate about vaccines causing things like ADHD and autism.  This is verifiable deaths like Ian’s (warning: triggering images and story).

Christie Haskel also talks about the dangers of infant car seats vs. cribs here.

Once again, I’m not really upset that they are recalling cribs.  Good for them for pulling something that might not be safe but I’m just dumbfounded at the contradictions and duplicity of these regulatory entities that are meant to protect us and the media coverage of different “alerts”!  What is a conscientious mother to do?  For me, I don’t take anything at face value.  I read.  I read some more.  I draw my own conclusions and trust thousands of years of maternal instinct.  Luckily my children’s stuffed animals are pretty safe in their non-drop-side crib down the hall far from where they sleep.

What are your thoughts on the crib recall? 

Author: Paige

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11 Comments

  1. Now that I've seen the results and have experienced the joy of co-sleeping I am a converted cribber. To always have your baby at your side where you can instantly take care of any need they might have makes for a better nights sleep. And the closeness is very beneficial to the child's feeling of well being. Don't knock it 'till you try it!

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  2. Right. Ban drop side cribs instead of forcing manufacturers to make better quality products. Thankfully I'm done having babies and our drop side crib, which I loved, is currently in use as a toddler bed. But when the ban was first being probed, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that talked about some of the more "affordable" fixed side cribs and the cheapest one was 400 dollars! Who the hell can afford that these days?

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  3. I think that the ban on the cribs is totally STUPID. The reasons that the cribs fail is NOT design – it's quality of parts. Plastic is not a good idea for the parts that control the drop sided components. OK, really, plastic isn't a good idea for any part of a crib that keeps it together. I have a 30 year old drop sided crib that I used for my now 2 year old and I LOVED it. It was a very expensive crib at the time, made in the US with METAL parts for the drop part (I never used it – as a very tall mom, I found that I didn't need it) and still meets current safety standards. Trust me, I checked. If the CPSC were really concerned about safety they would have insisted that the controlling mechanisms be changed to metal. It would have fixed the problems.

    And, I'm not the only one who thinks so. For a more realistic perspective on crib safety check out these two posts…
    http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/som
    http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/not

    And, I also co-slept for a while. What I learned from your article is that the crib company is a major proponent against co-sleeping. Guess that I should have figured that one out on my own. For us, co-sleeping was a need – serious reflux baby who aspirated during the night at 2 months… I nursed her all of the time. It was the only way that either of us got any sleep. Now, of course, the little turkey refuses to sleep in bed with mama but…

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  4. Thanks for putting things into a bigger perspective. I do think that San Francisco of all places should NOT be banning circumcision though. Uncircumcised men have been shown as more likely to spread STDs, which is spurring a movement in Africa to circumcise adults.

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  5. Interesting article. The way you use the numbers is a little concerning. absolute numbers per year are less meaningful than the percentage of deaths in the group of people that are undergoing a certain action or treatment. For example, your argument against circumcision would actually be if more impressive if the number of deaths were stated as a rate (or percentage) per number of infants that undergo the surgery.

    Your vaccination numbers sound impressive and scary. Vaccinations should never be sold as being 100 percent safe and what they accomplish needs to be remembered as well. It is all about risk versus benefit and will childhood vaccines the significant risk of LIFE THREATENING illnesses like meningitis, polio and pertussis (which are prevalent in North America) far outweigh the small risk associated with the vaccines themselves.

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  6. I agree with you that the numbers are not baselined as they should be however this is how the organizations making decisions use the numbers as well which should be alarming. Also, I would have to disagree with you about vaccines. There is not vaccine for meningitis (only for two causes: pneumonococcal and meningococcal), and polio and pertussis are not very life threatening when you look at the numbers. And while it is your opinion that the small risk of my child dying from a vaccine and that it is outweighed by the benefit of the vaccine that is certainly debatable and a decision for each parent to make. The point of my article was that the CDC would have you believe you MUST vaccinate while other organizations attack the "dangerous" cribs. It is contradictory at best and hypocritical in my opinion.

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  7. Thank you for laying out the numbers as you did, Paige. The more data parents are armed with, the better decisions they will make for their children (especially decisions that really don't need to be made at all, like routine infant circumcision).

    @Julia,
    Please share your peer-reviewed scientific data that conclusively shows intact men are at a greater risk of contracting STDs. As far as I know (and I've been researching this for almost 20 years), none exists. No national medical association in the world (not even Israel's) advocates routine infant circumcision, and in fact the two most recently updated policies (Netherlands and Australia) come down squarely against it. If we look at the empirical evidence, STD transmission has everything to do with safe sex practices and hygiene, and nothing to do with the genital cutting of infants.

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  8. I'm actually shocked that anyone is considering banning circumcision. I didn't expect to live to see that day. I wonder if I will live to see the day all vaccines are banned here in the U.S. too.

    I've not seen any data that really proves circumcised men are less likely to contract STDs either. Besides, I've come to the conclusion that all STDs are curable through megadosing with sodium ascorbate. I mean AIDS as well. I've read studies in years gone by where people on a strict vitamin C regimen tested negative even though they had had AIDS for years. Once they stopped taking the vitamin, within a few days, they tested positive again. Not to mention I've seen the scientist who 'discovered' AIDS pinpoint five completely different organisms and call them all AIDS. Other scientists said those organisms are only present in a stressed body, implying that those are your basic run of the mill free radicals. So is it really AIDS or is it stress? Vitamin C seemingly curing it would make sense if it was stress since the vitamin is an antioxidant. I personally don't buy into the STD hype anymore.

    Congratulations on your twins, Paige. I hope the rest of your pregnancy is smooth sailing!

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  9. There are several vaccinations administered to babies which would place them at risk of contracting particular types of diseases. Know about childhood vaccinations. Get more information about Vaccinations and child vaccinations at Parenting Advisor. ( http://www.parentingadvisor.net )

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  10. I was researching this today and I agree that it's rather stupid to ban something with such a low percentage of deaths over a 10 (closer to 11) year period. More children drown in pool accidents. Do they ban pools? No. For them to act upon such a small percentage of deaths, mainly attributed to human error, faulty and cheap equipment and negligence, screams to me that they're trying to get people to go out and spend their money during an economic recession. Sensationalism causes fear. Fear causes action. Action, in this case, causes profit. Call me crazy, but I think this may have something to do with it.

    And if you would like more information on vaccines and how they affect our children, along with environmental hazards, look up a lady by the name of Doris J. Rapp M.D. I found out about her through my mother who met her at an otolaryngologist convention and I spoke to her personally after my son was born and had already received his mandatory shots at the hospital. She opened my eyes about a lot of things and gave me alternatives to normal vaccines. She also informed me I have a right to choose. Very sweet and helpful woman, by the way. She has several very helpful books. You can also youtube her. She had a very interesting appearance on Donahue a long time ago, but many of the things she said still ring true.

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