Baby sleep positioners 'too dangerous to use', warn U.S officials as Mothercare pulls them from the shelves

By Claire Bates
Last updated at 12:14 PM on 30th September 2010

Baby sleep positioners that are supposed to help babies to sleep safely are too dangerous to use, U.S. officials have warned.

The devices are now being withdrawn from the shelves of Mothercare, which sold the positioners in the UK, after they were contacted this morning by MailOnline.

In a statement released to the MailOnline, they said: 'Due to concerns raised in the U.S over the safety of infant sleep positioners we have decided to remove them from sale while we review the situation.'

The three items that have been pulled are the Head 'n' back, Resting Up and Snugglenest. 

An infant sleep positioner for the head and back that is sold at both Tesco and Mothercare

An infant sleep positioner for the head and back that is sold at both Tesco and Mothercare. U.S officials say such devices are 'too dangerous' to use

The devices, that are also on sale at Tesco and Kiddicare were described as a 'serious concern' by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Food and Drug Administration yesterday.

The warning comes after U.S. officials received reports of two infants who suffocated because of sleep positioner products.

It brings the number of deaths linked to the devices up to 12 since 1997. Most of the babies suffocated after rolling from their sides onto their stomachs.

The CPSC has also received dozens of reports of babies who were placed on their back or side in the positioners and were later found in hazardous positions within or next to the product.

Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the CPSC, told parents they should 'stop using these sleep positioners, so that children can have a safer sleep.'

U.S government advice to parents

  • STOP using infant positioning products - they are dangerous and unnecessary

  • NEVER put sleep positioners under the baby or in the crib

  • ALWAYS place a baby on their back at nap time

She added: 'The deaths and dangerous situations resulting from the use of infant sleep positioners are a serious concern.'

Sleep positioners are often sold with the claim that they can reduce gastroesophageal reflux disease, so-called 'flat head syndrome' and also improve quality of rest.

Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families: 'We strongly urge parents to ignore the hard sell for many of these infant products, and we beseech companies to be more careful before they sell products that could potentially kill our babies.

'It's great that the FDA is issuing a warning, and unfortunate that a recall would take a lot longer to put into effect.'

The warning follows recent actions regarding other children's products, including a recall in June of more than 2 million drop-side cribs and in late April a recall of some liquid children's medicines made by Johnson & Johnson.

The FDA has approved about 18 sleep positioning products over the years, but none were approved to make claims about SIDS.

'Right now, our view is that given the risk, the modest evidence of benefit does not outweigh the risk,' said FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein.

The FDA has written in the past month to manufacturers of these products asking them to stop selling them. The agency said five companies had informally agreed, but it did not release their names.

A spokesman from the UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: 'There have been no cases reported to us in relation to the safety of baby positioners - however we will of course keep these products under review following the joint CPSC/FDA warning in the USA.'

MailOnline is awaiting comment from Tesco and Kiddicare.

For the FDA consumer update click here

This undated photo provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows a baby doll on a sleep positioner

This undated photo provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows a baby doll on a sleep positioner. There are fears they could increase the risk of suffocation

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