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Friday, December 30, 2005Ran across an article today that talked about a popular breastfeeding pillow that is being pulled from the market by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Boston Billow breastfeeding cushion has not been linked to any deaths or injuries, but the CPSC claims that it too closely resembles an infant pillow that was pulled from the market more than a decade ago after being linked to some infant deaths.
The Boston Billow company is petitioning the government to allow the pillow to be sold again and both lactation consultants and parents are squaring off against safety advocates in a tug-of-war over whether or not the breastfeeding aid can be sold under certain circumstances.
From the article:
What distinguished the Boston Billow, a niche product sold mostly in birthing centers and specialty shops, is that it is soft and filled with beads, like a bean bag, that allow it to be molded to fit moms and kids of all sizes.
Because of those features, the hospitals that carried them often recommended the Boston Billow to moms who can't tolerate a firm pillow because they have had Caesarean sections.
The pillows also are used by women who have carpal tunnel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy or rheumatoid arthritis, said Karin Cadwell, executive director and lead faculty member at the Healthy Children Project in Massachusetts, which runs a breastfeeding center that trains health care providers.
The article went on to explain that the reason for the ban was more because of potential risk than actual risk...
It shares some indisputable characteristics with banned "infant pillows" - it has a flexible fabric covering and is loosely filled with beads and can easily be flattened.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also said the Boston Billow meets the two other criteria that make it synonymous with an infant pillow from a regulatory standpoint - it is capable of conforming to the body or face of an infant, and "intended for use by infants under 1 year old."
S. Erik Skoug, the president of Boston Pillows explained to the media that there was little chance that the nursing pillow could be confused with the banned pillow from the 80's, explaining that the banned pillow was designed for sleeping infants while his product is made for use by a mother as she nurses her child.
On the other hand, safety advocates claim that since the product is designed for use with infants, that there's a chance that it will be used improperly and that "the risk of suffocation outweighs any convenience factor that the cushion might bring to a nursing mother."
The Boston Billows recall notice reads:
Infant pillows and cushions are banned under federal law. Infant pillows have a flexible fabric covering, are loosely filled with plastic beads, easily flattened, intended for use by infants under 1 year old, and capable of conforming to the body or face of an infant.
While I fully understand the concerns that some people have over these types of products, I can't help but think that we're taking away a potentially good thing because of the risk that a few people might misuse them. It's like the argument that many make over co-sleeping or swimming pools or trampolines. Yes, accidents can happen with misuse, but that doesn't mean that they should be banned completely.
The period for public comment closed on December 12th, but individuals that are interested in supporting Boston Billows can do so by visiting the company at their web site: http://www.bostonbillows.com/.
Labels: Product Reviews