Nursing Pillows To Be Regulated After Dozens of Infant Deaths

Source: NBC News

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has advanced a proposal to create the first federal requirements for nursing pillows after dozens of infant deaths in recent years.

Under the proposed changes — based on recommendations made last month by CPSC staff — nursing pillows will be required to be “sufficiently firm” enough to reduce the likelihood of conforming to infants’ faces, which can cause suffocation.

The proposal also requires that the curve of the pillows be wide enough to avoid restricting infants’ head movements, which can cut off airflow.

Nursing pillows will also be prohibited from having straps to secure babies, which can mislead parents into thinking they can safely step away from their infants.

Nursing pillows are a staple of baby registries, with an estimated 1.34 million sold each year in the U.S. The horseshoe-shaped pillows can help position breastfed infants so they get the correct latch, and can help reduce parents’ neck and shoulder strain as they nurse or bottle-feed their babies.

But the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has cited 154 deaths involving nursing pillows from 2010 to 2022, including those caused by suffocation, asphyxia, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The CPSC has long recognized the danger nursing pillows can pose to infants, but it was not until 2020 that it warned consumers that nursing pillows and other similar cushions “are not designed for sleep and are not safe for sleep.” (The American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines recommend that babies sleep alone and on their backs on a flat surface without any loose bedding.)

The nursing pillow industry mobilized to oppose CPSC regulation long before the proposed changes were unveiled. Major manufacturers helped create the Breastfeeding Infant Development Support Alliance to lead an advocacy and lobbying campaign in Washington DV. The group has accused the CPSC of harming breastfeeding women by trying to “impose the will of government over the needs of mothers.”

The proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen this week. Under federal law, the CPSC will review and respond to the comments before finalizing the rule: a lengthy process that can take months or years to complete.

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