Category Archives: Baby Safety
They’re bulky, they’re cumbersome, and they’re an unfortunate necessity for all parents. Strollers, particularly larger, stronger models with a harness, are essential, but when it comes to public transportation, they’re a huge hindrance for everyone. Bus, train, and subway passengers have to walk past or over the behemoth, while the parents themselves, in many cases, have to get the child out, set him or her down, and fold up the frame. In many cases, the hybrid model, in which a car seat is actually attached to the frame, is far helpful than standard and jogging strollers, but practically all urban parents can agree that these pieces of gear are a thorn in the side that just doesn’t go away.
In San Francisco, rules for strollers on public transit appear even stricter than in other parts of the country. It used to be that drivers could decide whether or not to let parents with children on the bus. Those admitted had to take the baby out first and then fold up the stroller.
As of March 1, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Association had a change of heart and, in response to parents’ complaints, introduced a new stroller policy. Parents now can bring strollers onto all public vehicles, except cable cars, and are even permitted to use the lift. The child, as well, can stay in the stroller, as long as he or she is strapped in, the wheels are locked, the vehicle isn’t crowded, and the stroller does not block the aisle. If the train is crowded, the driver can ask a passenger to fold up the stroller.
While the stroller itself is still cumbersome during a day out, at least with the new rules, parents will have less difficulty taking their child around town on errands.
- What Stroller Is Right For You? (franklingoose.typepad.com)
- TTC is one of many transit agencies struggling with stroller issue (metronews.ca)
- Be more considerate Ottawa: My thoughts on strollers on the bus (pubpatioplaydate.com)
Low birth weights, often associated with premature babies, are a significant concern for parents. An international study published recently reveals that areas with higher concentrations of smog, or particulate pollution, are correlated with this risk.
Smog can originate from a vehicle, coal power plant, or similar source, but certain regions control and regulate it better than others. The published study involved analyzing data from 3 million births in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, with low birth weights constituting any child born under 5.5 pounds. Although there is no cause-and-effect relationship, the results found that children born in areas with higher concentrations of such pollution were more likely to have been underweight.
About the results, Tracey Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, stated: “What’s significant is that these are air-pollution levels to which practically everyone in the world is commonly exposed. These microscopic particles, which are smaller than the width of a human hair, are in the air that we all breathe.”
While the U.S. has tighter regulations regarding smog than other parts of the world, quickly-developing countries, such as China, do not have such standards in place. Also involved in the study, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain, stated about this concern: “From the perspective of world health, levels like this are obviously completely unsustainable.”
A long list of health concerns follow children born in this weight range. Although some end up healthy, others, early on, have greater risks of respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular hemorrhage, patent ductus arteriosis, necrotizing enterocolitis, and retinopathy of prematurity. Later on, children that survive are prone to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Exposure to Smog in Early Pregnancy Linked to Complications (oddonion.com)
- Exposure to Smog in Early Pregnancy Linked to Complications (nlm.nih.gov)
- Exposure to pollution linked to low birth weight (ktrmurali.wordpress.com)
Last week, news of a Dolce & Gabbana baby perfume set the blogosphere on fire. Such a product’s uselessness, marketing techniques, and safety were called out, but in writing about it, Forbes indicated that this typically-European item is part of a luxury baby products trend, one that grew 8.6 percent from 2000 to ’12 and is predicted to increase an additional 7.6 percent by 2016. Additionally, the magazine pointed out, Dolce & Gabbana isn’t the first to make baby perfume; Johnson & Johnson, Bulgari, and Burberry already have such products.
What does this scent smell like? Honey, citrus, and musk. According to marketing copy, the combination is meant to replicate and enhance a baby’s natural smell: “How can babies smell even sweeter than they already do? That familiar smell associated with babies that melts our hearts will only be accentuated by this Dolce&Gabbana fragrance.”
What’s next? Baby cosmetics to enhance a child’s already-delicate features?
Forbes goes onto highlight the concerns associated with baby perfumes, including a U.S. loophole that does not require fragrance manufacturers to disclose all ingredients. In several cases, according to a 2010, chemical DEP – associated with developmental issues – has been found in perfumes and scented products.
Blog Fashionista, in investigating this phenomenon, interviewed Frederick Bouchardy, the founder of Joya Perfumes. While explaining such products have already been around for several years in Europe, Bouchardy went onto say that adult’s and children’s scents are similarly-designed and meant for bonding: “I think it’s supposed to be a shared experience–mom and child are meant to smell the same.”
The only difference, at least when it comes to European products, is the use of alcohol; baby perfumes typically do not add it as an ingredient. Additionally, Bouchardy pointed out, several baby products already have fragrances included.
Where do you stand on the issue of baby perfume? Is it unnecessary, something parents should be concerned about, or an issue that’s not such a big deal?
The latest baby products to be recalled by the CPSC are baby seats from Fisher-Price. With the complaint and recall revealed on January 8, CPSC mentioned 800,000 seats purchased since September 2009 can possibly grow mold.
Since the seat came on the market, CPSC received 600 reports of mold on the Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers. Out of this amount, 16 children were treated for respiratory issues, such as coughing and hives.
Nevertheless, not all seats have developed mold, and parents are suggested to check under the cushions. As the CPSC pointed out in its report, mold may form between the cushions and the frame, particularly if the seat is wet or not cleaned regularly. Although other recalled products may have a replacement kit to order, parents have the option of contacting the manufacturer for cleaning instructions.
For parents looking for baby seats, keep in mind that the Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers are still in stores. Nevertheless, baby retailers often have several options for infant seats, be it for movement and activity, sleeping, or practice sitting up. From retailer Dada Baby Boutique, for instance, options for infant seats range from this Haba Airplane Swing to Moses baskets with stands.
Nevertheless, the Fisher-Price product is far from the only higher-profile baby seat to go through a recall over the past 12 months. As many parents can recall, Bumbo seats, a product designed to help children learn to sit up, has been called out by the CPSC on multiple occasions for fall hazards. Children have been able to slip out of the seats and fall; putting the seat on an elevated surface, such as a counter, table, or sofa, increases the chances of injuries.
- Recall Alert! Fisher-Price Pulls Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers (thebump.com)
- Recall: Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘N Play Sleepers (livingrichwithcoupons.com)
- Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers recalled due to mold concerns (wtkr.com)
Just as lower U.S. birth rates were recently correlated with an unstable economy, rising cases of child abuse against infants may correspond with financial hardship. A recent study, done by Yale University and published this week, examines reports of child abuse from 1997 to 2009, finding that injuries to infants grew over this time. Such findings, however, contradict reports that child abuse, overall, is down.
Yale’s study looked at the status of children admitted to hospitals for serious injuries over these 12 years. 50 percent of those admitted were babies, with 30 to 40 percent of this amount having abusive head trauma, otherwise known as “shaken baby syndrome.” This amount led to an 11-percent increase during the past decade.
But, what about studies that show child abuse, overall, decreased 23 to 55 percent over the 2000s? While Yale looked at hospital visits, other studies examined child abuse reports filed with Child Protective Services and similar agencies. On the other hand, the doctor behind the Yale study points out, looking at CPS records likely doesn’t give a full picture of potential child abuse, as cases filed as “neglect” were not included in other studies’ figures. Dr. John Leventhal of Yale University told the press: “Maybe parents are doing better and hurting their children less in general, but there is a small group where there continue to be substantial injuries that end in hospitalization.”
As NBC News points out in their assessment, child abuse is an extreme concern, and in the U.S., 740,000 cases are treated in hospitals each use. The effects can hinder brain development in a child’s earlier years and have ramifications later on, including depression and heart disease once the child grows into an adult.
All studies, it appears, are only pulling from a select case of results. For child abuse to be examined on a greater scale, should another, more comprehensive study be done?
- Serious child abuse injuries creep up, Yale study shows (eurekalert.org)
- Hospital records indicate rise in child abuse (whptv.com)
- Serious Physical Abuse Of Kids Has Gone Up Slightly, US Hospital Data Shows (medicalnewstoday.com)
Parents just love the Bumbo baby seat, but this product, designed to help infants sit up when they’re not physically ready to do so, has experienced its share of recalls and complaints over the years. In fact, the product has officially been recalled twice since 2007, and this past week, to address the latest issue, the South Africa-based company came up with a solution for the fall hazards it presents.
If you can remember, a third recall loomed in February, and the brand, prior to that, had added safety labels to the foam seats. Essentially, the warnings informed parents to not use the product on elevated surfaces, such as tables and chairs. However, because of placement and of babies falling or crawling out of these seats, the Bumbo has resulted in a number of skull fractures. To keep the babies in place, the company started offering a safety harness for the four million products sold.
How do the harnesses work? Once parents request the kit, they can poke straps for the safety harness into the foam seat. For using the Bumbo, the parent will need to strap and secure the baby into the seat, and make sure the product is on the floor. The new addition, on the other hand, contradicts the seat’s original advertising, which touted the lack of buckles and straps.
After the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission analyzed the kits, agency spokesman said: “We believe the straps and the harness will position the babies and toddlers in the center of the seat, which will improve the stability.”
Are you a parent who uses a Bumbo seat? Do you think that, with the warning and new straps, the product’s ease of use is drastically reduced? Have you had any issues with the Bumbo, or do you steer clear of it entirely?
Standards for baby products have drastically changed over the past year. Drop side cribs were given the first revisions – or, more appropriately, were eliminated from the shelves of brick-and-mortar and ecommerce retailers. Now, because of growing concerns regarding SIDS and sleeping hazards, crib bumpers are the next target. Two weeks ago, Maryland proposed a ban on them, and Chicago made the sale of this baby bed product illegal in 2011.
So, to adapt to the changing conditions of the baby products market, what’s a retailer to do? Dada Baby Boutique is adapting by introducing a line of bumper-less crib bedding. The ecommerce store’s product selection now reflects brand’s changing options. Dwell Studio, Caden Lane, Olena Boyko, Persnickety, Little Acorn, and Olli & Lime all offer bumper-free bedding sets; with this component gone, all such lines include a combination of sheets, a crib skirt, and other accoutrements that are not placed inside the baby’s sleeping area.
However, many brands offered through Dada Baby still include crib bumpers. What’s a parent to do? Instead of settling for a few select brands, parents, through the ecommerce store, can opt for custom bedding from New Arrivals, Maddie Boo, and Little Giraffe. All sheets, regardless of brand, come in attractive colors and patterns and are made out of high-quality materials.
As Dada Baby Boutique points out in its press release, manufacturers selling crib bumpers in states with bans face fines.
But, with the exception of this handful of areas, why do crib bumpers continue to remain on shelves? For years, these cushioning liners were thought to protect against injuries, such as a child banging its head against the wooden sides of a crib. Recent research shows, however, that the soft material can restrict air ventilation, if a child’s face is pressed into it, and additionally poses limb entrapment, strangulation, and head injury hazards.
Recently, the FDA issued a warning for certain teething products containing benzocaine. This includes both teething toys and numbing gels. Benzocaine, in high doses, can cause a rare but potentially fatal disorder called methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder, in children, the FDA stated. Those 2 years of age and younger are particularly vulnerable.
This is not the first instance, however, and the FDA put out a similar statement in 2006. Since that point, however, 29 cases of methemoglobinemia resulting from benzocaine, with a large percentage from children, have been reported. This chemical is relatively common, and can even affect adults. Symptoms of methemoglobinemia include pale, gray, or bluish-colored skin, lips, or nail beds; shortness of breath; fatigue; confusion; headache; light-headedness, and rapid heart rate. Symptoms typically start showing a few hours after the gel has been applied.
While products with benzocaine are not being taken out of stores, the FDA lists a few recommendations for parents. First, keep any products with benzocaine, including teething products, out of the reach of children. If such a product has to be used, only do so as needed and in sparing amounts. Any such product should be used no more than four times per day. Parents looking to avoid benzocaine should read labels for all teething products.
Gels and teething rings, however, are not the only options for parents. Dada Baby Boutique presents multiple organic teething options – strong enough to temporarily sooth a child’s aching mouth but not potentially toxic. These organic teething toys are firm and stuffed. On the outside, these toys are made out of 100-percent organic cotton and are packed with corn fiber filling. Dada Baby Boutique offers a wide selection of shapes and colors for organic teething toys.
Crib bumpers are a standard feature of baby bedding, but are they absolutely necessary? Studies have shown that not only are crib bumpers superfluous to the baby’s sleep area, but they pose a suffocation hazard. The state of Maryland, as a result, is proposing a ban on many bumpers.
If the proposal becomes law, the sale of crib bumpers will be illegal starting June 2013, and those caught will face a $500 fine. Should the proposal go through, Maryland would be the first state to ban the sale of crib bumpers, although Chicago already introduced such a rule in 2011.
As the Washington Post mentions, research from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene points to the risks associated with bumpers. While rare, such risks like suffocation and air flow restriction are possibilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA even point out that this bedding component is associated with infant deaths. Manufactures, on the other hand, claim bumpers are necessary to prevent limbs getting trapped between rails and other trauma.
In Maryland, however, not all bumpers will be banned. Although the conventional variety will be taken off shelves if the proposal becomes law, mesh and vertical bumpers will still be allowed.
Some brands realize that not all parents add this component to the inside of a crib and, as a result, are selling bumper-free baby bedding. Such sets come with all other parts, from the sheets to a crib skirt. But, even if an area does not have a ban or even if a set of sheets comes with a bumper, parents should still be wary. After all, as a safety precaution against suffocation, soft items, such as pillows and stuffed animals, should not be placed inside the crib, and bumpers are no exception.
First there were concerns about BPA in baby bottles. Then, worries shifted to fire retardant chemicals and other potential carcinogens in baby products. Now the focus has moved toward arsenic in baby formula.
Discussed in the Huffington Post, a Dartmouth College study found increased levels of arsenic in foods sweetened with rice syrup, baby formula being one of them. Rice syrup, in these instances, originates domestically. Rice is presently grown on land once reserved for cotton. As environmentally-conscious parents know, conventional cotton is sprayed with a laundry list of pesticides, with arsenic included. Although the cotton is since gone, the arsenic remains in the topsoil, allowing the rice crop to absorb it.
The USDA is presently conducting research for reducing levels of arsenic in domestic rice crops.
In response, the USA Rice Federation issued a statement, declaring the arsenic in their product contributes only a small amount to the total from a human’s diet. They go onto explain that arsenic is a naturally-occurring substance that has been in foods for years and that the type in rice is organic. Arsenic, they add, is in water meeting FDA standards but is inorganic – more harmful than the naturally-occurring compound.
When it comes to your baby, whose argument do you buy? The USA Rice Federation, who possibly is downplaying the effects of arsenic to save their product, or the Dartmouth College study, which could be creating unnecessary hysteria?
In terms of baby formula, the Huffington Post points out, most brands are not made with rice syrup. Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Toddler Formula and Baby’s Only Organic Soy Toddler Formula do, however. Nevertheless, a baby’s health shouldn’t be put at risk, and to avoid any products with rice syrup, organic or otherwise, read all ingredients before purchasing.
- Baby Formula: The Next Frontier in Arsenic’s Battle to Exterminate Us [Food] (jezebel.com)
- Study: Organic Rice Syrup Linked to High-Arsenic Baby Formula (environmentalleader.com)
- Is There Arsenic in My Baby Formula? (ecochildsplay.com)