ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's health department on Friday officially proposed the first statewide ban on the sale of crib bumper pads in cribs to begin next year.
The proposed ban would start June 21, 2013.
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The department started investigating the risks the pads pose to infants last year. Since then, the department has convened a panel of health experts, held two public meetings and reviewed public comment.
"The safety and health of infants in Maryland is our first priority," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Human Hygiene. "After an extensive year-long review of the evidence and thoughtful consideration of public comment, we agree with our expert health advisors that baby bumper pads pose unreasonable risks to infants."
A four-member task force recommended last year that the state declare crib bumpers a hazard because they can suffocate or strangle babies.
Dr. Scott Krugman, incoming chapter president and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, said the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics supports the proposal.
"We appreciate that this approach is based on extensive review of evidence and public input," Krugman said.
Public comment on the proposed regulation will be accepted until August 13. The proposal would give retailers nine months to prepare to comply with the ban.
The ban would not apply to vertical bumpers that wrap tightly around a crib rail or mesh crib liners, but the department said it does not recommend them.
The department's proposed regulation includes a provision that would allow bumper pads to be sold, if the Consumer Product Safety Commission finds that the benefits of certain pads exceed the risks.
Maryland health officials already discourage the use of crib bumpers as part of an effort to promote safe sleep for infants that encourages parents to put infants to sleep along, on their backs and in a crib.
Last year, the Chicago City Council banned the sale of crib bumper pads, but Maryland's proposal is the first by a state in the nation.