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June 1997

Suspended Rocking Cradles, Positional Asphyxia, and Sudden Infant Death

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pathology, University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital, Tampa. Please note that Dr Gilbert-Barness served as expert witness in at least 2 of the cases cited in this article.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(6):573-575. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170430039008

Objective:  To describe the risk of unexpected death in infants who are placed in suspended rocking cradles.

Main Outcome Measures:  Ten cases of sudden infant death and 5 cases of infant asphyxia with successful resuscitation reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission were analyzed. The death scene investigation reports and autopsy material were made available for evaluation. All 15 cases implicated a suspended head-to-toe rocking cradle.

Results:  Infants were aged 3 months or younger and were found in the facedown prone position when discovered. The cradle was tilted at greater than 5°, and the head was wedged at one end of the cradle. A locking pin was not used in 14 cases. Ten of the 15 infants died. The autopsy reports listed sudden infant death syndrome as the cause of death.

Conclusions:  Suspended rocking cradles represent a potentially lethal sleeping environment and should not be used without a locking pin in place. Infants should be placed in the supine position for sleep.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:573-575