PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating several infant deaths that may be linked to nursing pillows and is now warning parents and caregivers to stop using nursing pillows and loungers as a place for babies to sleep.
"CPSC has identified deaths possibly associated with pillow-like products and continues to analyze incident data with the goal of determining the risks with these products and providing more clarity to the public on any risks associated with these products," the agency said in a news release. "The initial assessment of incidents shows deaths when children are left on or near pillows, and the child rolls over, rolls off, or falls asleep."
The agency says it is investigating the entire class of pillow products, and its warning is not specific to any brand.
Nursing pillows are a common product on baby registries. Many are designed to wrap around a mother's body to provide support while she's holding her child. Ilce Alexander, an injury prevention specialist at Phoenix Children's Hospital says these pillows are not designed for sleeping infants.
"The dangerous part is when parents use these products to position a baby in the crib or on the bed or on the couch and have a baby sleeping on them," Alexander said. "Babies move when they sleep, and when they move, these positioners, if they’re inclining the baby, the baby’s body drops down which then puts the baby in a position where the head is going to drop down, and if it drops down, it’s going to go ahead and block their airway."
"Use them for breastfeeding, but when you’re done, go ahead and put the baby in the crib," she added.
For safe sleep, remember the ABCs:
"Products that are safe to use are cribs, bassinets, and Pack ‘n Plays. When you use these products, make sure you follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. Make sure that you are putting absolutely nothing in there; no blankets, no diapers, no toys," Alexander said. "I’m a mom, and I know as a first time mom, you want to go ahead and buy all these things and you want to make your baby so warm and cozy and comfortable, but if you’re not aware of all these recommendations, you fall into that trap."
Annually, approximately 1,000 infants suffocate in their sleep, according to the CPSC.