Study: Air Mattresses Linked to Over 100 Infant Deaths. A new study suggests that air mattresses can be fatal when used for infants. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Georgia are calling for increased awareness over this risk. The investigators identified over 100 infant fatalities associated with the use of an air mattress, because the inflatable beds can mold around an infant’s face. The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
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According to a May 17, 2017 press release issued by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the study was conducted by Jennifer Doering, associate professor of nursing at UWM, and Trina Salm Ward, assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Social Work and College of Public Health at UGA. The researchers note that air mattresses are often used because they are inexpensive and portable. As such, they are commonly used by people who are low income or do not have permanent homes.
However, they warned that an air mattress presents fatal hazards for an infant. “Even when fully inflated, air mattresses can mold to the infant’s face and obstruct the airway by forming an occlusive seal,” the authors write, according to the release. “The risk increases when air mattresses leak during use. Under-inflation was a factor in some of the infant deaths reviewed.”
Using the National Child Death Review Case Reporting System, the authors identified 108 infant fatalities in 24 states between 2004 and 2015. The researchers state that this figure may be an underestimation due to variations when states began reporting child deaths. Additionally, the reporting form does not contain an explicit choice for “air mattress”.
After reviewing policy statements from 12 leading organizations, Doering and Salm Ward found that only one addressed the risks of air mattresses in infants. The researchers also highlight the unrecognized dangers of other bedding options, such as mattress toppers and mattresses with adjustable firmness. They note that these options have not been clearly distinguished from a traditional spring mattress, the release states.
In light of the study, the authors have several recommendations. Public health organizations can raise awareness about these risks by explicitly warning about the risks of air mattresses when discussing low-cost bedding options to counteract bedbug infestations.
Additionally, the researchers state that reporting methods should be changed to include hazardous sleeping surfaces. In particular, researchers should ask about whether the infant was sleeping on an air mattress and the use of air mattress components in traditional mattresses.
What is Product Liability?
Product liability lawsuits are filed over an allegedly defective or dangerous product. Under product liability law, manufacturers in the United States can be sued if their product causes injury. When filing a product liability lawsuit, plaintiffs allege that the product is defective, causing harm.
There are three general categories for product defects: design defect, manufacturing defect, and marketing defect.
When a product has a design defect, it means that it was unsafe even before being manufactured. The product was inherently dangerous due to its design. A manufacturing defect means the product deviates from its original design. It may have been safe when designed, but became defective while being made or put together. For example, a car may be designed safely but when the factory put it together the brake components were assembled incorrectly, presenting a safety hazard for consumers.
Marketing defects include failure to warn, incorrect labeling or inadequate instructions. Under product liability, manufactures must warn consumers if their product is dangerous in any way.
If you were injured due to a defective product, you may have grounds for a product liability lawsuit. Compensation from a lawsuit can help pay for medical bills, such as emergency room visits, hospital fees, the cost of surgery, prescriptions, doctors’ visits, medical equipment and physical rehabilitation. Injured victims can also seek damages for lost wages, both past and future, and pain and suffering. Product liability lawsuits may also include wrongful death claims if the injuries were fatal.
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