As for the alarming injured baby statistic, it was noted that 1- and 2-year-olds account for most of the injuries, which is about 10 million at risk in the study population (that is a conservative estimate since older and younger kids were also at risk). So we have less than 1/1000th of the at-risk population experiencing an event each year. This would be a disturbing number if many of the events were highly serious, but there is no indication of this. Deaths were in the order of less than 1/100,000 per person-year. To put that in perspective, the risk to the kid from car travel is easily ten times that great.
This does not mean that the problems should be ignored. But it was noted that most of the injuries, especially the most serious ones, consisted of toddlers pulling themselves up out of the crib and then falling to the ground. This is another case of operator error rather than bad tech, since the mattress can and should be lowered, effectively raising the walls of the cage, as the kid gets bigger. And, of course, there comes a combination of height and arm strength when the pen walls create rather than reduce falling risk. In other words, a lot of the injuries were to newly motile kids whose parents had not figured out that they needed to climb-proof their space, so those kids faced some risk wherever they were left alone. Strange how none of the articles I saw led off with or even clearly noted the message “parents can eliminate almost all of the small but nonzero risk from cribs by making sure the kid cannot climb out of them.”
Many of the news articles about the topic mentioned that, despite the hazards, putting the kid to sleep in a crib is safer than any other option. I find it rather difficult to understand how this can be asserted, given that it is probably quite difficult to get good statistics on how often kids are put to sleep in socially frowned-upon places like, say, their parents’ bed (common in most of the world, but widely condemned in the U.S.). I would guess that there are no good statistics on alternative sleeping arrangements like the parents’ bed, dresser drawers, or mattresses on the floor (hmm, that one seems safer). This is one of those claims that should cause a reporter to say “how do you know that”; they seldom do.
All that got me thinking. We have a fairly low-risk activity and the risk is being further lowered by changing technology. It is an alternative to a popular but officially socially-condemned activity. That sounded really familiar. So I had to wonder, why the “health promotion” types are not attacking cribs, like they do other harm reduction practices, screaming that cribs are not a safe alternative to other sleeping arrangements. After all, the study was published in Pediatrics.
How can we accept actions that merely lower the risk from cribs when there are government sanctioned proven methods of
quitting…er…sleeping. As shown here, there are tested and proven safety gear approved by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Photographer’s Note: The latter is not shown in use (it is sitting in the back) since my model started crying every time I put the bike helmet on him, and for some reason his mom then decided the shoot was over. Models can be such divas. But, if we have learned anything from anti-tobacco extremists and their ilk, it is that a little needless emotional distress and intense discomfort is a small price to pay to eliminate every last trace of risk.
With that in mind, why is there no demand to do away with these jungle-animal-decorated death traps? My personal theory is that all the health activists are secretly in the pocket of Big Crib. This explains why they condemn the most popular alternative in the world (and that mattress on the floor idea) in favor of a slavish devotion to cribs, even as they desperately try to eliminate all crib features that could lead to faulty assembly or other operator error. Coming soon will be cribs with a lid on top like a hamster cage, which will be a bit dehumanizing, but will be good for getting kids ready for their role in our increasingly feudal society. Actually I think it is more likely that the requirement will be cribs
[Disclaimers: (1) No babies were harmed in the making of this blog post. Not seriously anyway. (2) The journal Pediatrics is a go-to outlet for both utter crap junk-science that has a particular nanny-state bias and for legitimate research about children’s health that the author thinks should be read by activists rather that just by medics and scientists. The latter studies are not necessarily junk, they are merely written by authors who are willing to implicitly support the junk so that they can gain greater visibility among those who are not sufficiently expert to know that Pediatrics publishes junk. Not high praise, I suppose, but it is only fair to concede the point.]