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AAP issues warning about weighted infant sleep sacks

Parents in Oklahoma and around the country are drawn to products that promise to help infant children sleep through the night. These products include swaddles and sleep sacks that feature pouches containing small weights. The companies that manufacture weighted sleep sacks and swaddles say the weights make infants feel like they are being hugged, but the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that they could be dangerous.

Potentially fatal risk

In a June 15 letter sent to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and a leading standards development organization, the AAP said weighted sleeping products posed a potentially fatal risk to newborns and infants. According to the AAP, placing even small weights on an infant’s flexible and elastic ribcage could stifle breathing and make it more difficult for babies in distress to wake up. When one of the leading manufacturers of weighted sleep sacks and swaddles tested their products on five infants, the infants’ blood oxygen levels fell slightly but remained above the level generally considered healthy.

No regulations

The CPSC’s database contains only one case that involves an infant who died while wearing a weighted sleeping product, and there is little evidence suggesting that the sleep sack caused the child’s death. The makers of weighted sleep sacks and swaddles maintain that their products are safe, and they have described the AAP’s fears as “speculative” and its approach as “conservative.” The CPSC has issued no dangerous product warnings about weighted sleep sacks and swaddles, and there are no infant sleep sack federal safety regulations.

Novel sleeping products

Novel sleep-related products like in-bed sleepers and inclined sleepers have been linked with more than 100 infant deaths. This is why the parents of newborns and infants should be wary of products that offer them the promise of an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Until peer-reviewed studies have established that weighted infant sleep products are safe, parents may be wise to heed the AAP’s warning.