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Popular Nursing Pillow Linked to Infant Deaths

Just one more thing for new parents to worry about. A Pennsylvania coroner has connected three recent infant deaths to the misuse of a popular nursing pillow that practically every new mom has—the Boppy. Dauphin County coroner Graham Hetrick says the deaths are linked to asphyxiation due to the moon-shaped pillows—which do come attached to warnings to never let the baby sleep on them.

All of the infants were only a few months old.

Hetrick tells ABC27 News, "The head starts pushing back on the curve of the pillow and the head goes forward. ... So, three at this point. Three's a lot." He implores parents to "watch what pillows, watch what bedding and what kind of bed you're putting them in, because postural asphyxia, it's much easier to get into that position as a baby than it is as even a toddler."

According to Wendy O'Shea with the Cribs for Kids program, those pillows are only intended to help with breastfeeding and were never intended for naps. "The baby could slide down and if the baby slides down, its airway can be cut off. The baby could accidentally roll, and even if it just rolls on its side its airway can be cut off."

And despite the warnings in both English and Spanish on the label of the pillow, and an entire section of the Boppy website devoted to Safe Sleep, parents are still uneducated about best sleep practices for infants. In fact, a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health found accidental suffocation deaths accounted for 16 deaths per 100,000 infants—which is double what it was in the decade before 2010.

O'Shea emphasizes, "The best way is to lay your child down on their back on a firm mattress on a tightly fitted sheet—no bumper pads, no pillows, no stuffed animals. Nothing in the the crib, just the crib and the baby."

For more information on the U.S. Department of Health's safe sleeping procedures for infants, check out www.nichd.nih.gov/SIDS.

MORE: Infant Safety in the Home

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