In its latest guidelines for doctors, the American Academy of Pediatrics is advising against the usage of bumper pads in cribs, saying they may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

Because infants lack the strength and motor skills to turn their heads when their breathing is blocked, the group fears rolling against soft pads could cause suffocation. Makers of the pads disagree, saying they help prevent head injuries and limb entrapment, and dispute there is evidence that the products can cause babies to suffocate.

But investigations by the Chicago Tribune found that although federal regulators with the Consumer Product Safety Commission have received reports for years of babies suffocating against bumper pads, they haven’t warned parents or investigated all the deaths.

Regulators say they are still trying to determine if there is a scientific link between bumper pads and suffocation, or if blankets, pillows or medical issues played a primary role in those deaths.

“We weighed the pros and cons and the evidence, and felt that the safest thing would be to keep bumpers out of the crib altogether,” said Dr. Fern R. Hauck, a professor of family medicine at the University of Virginia and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ SIDS task force.

[Chicago Tribune]