By Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, June 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- An air mattress can be a dangerous place for babies, researchers warn.
Air mattresses are becoming increasing popular among low-income, transient people due to their inexpensive cost and portability. But these beds carry significant risks for infants, including the possibility of death, according to the study authors.
"Even when fully inflated, air mattresses can mold to the infant's face and obstruct the airway by forming an occlusive seal," wrote researchers Jennifer Doering, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Trina Salm Ward, from the University of Georgia.
"The risk increases when air mattresses leak during use. Underinflation was a factor in some of the infant deaths reviewed," they added.
There were 108 infant deaths involving air mattresses reported in 24 states between 2004 and 2015, according to the U.S. National Child Death Review Case Reporting System. But the researchers said such deaths are probably underreported. There's no specific box to check to mark a death as related to an air mattress, the study authors explained.
They checked policy statements from 12 organizations -- including federal agencies and health, consumer and parent groups -- and found that only one mentioned the hazard posed to infants by air mattresses.
Doering and Ward called for improved data collection on air mattress-related infant deaths and for more public health organizations to warn about the threat.
The study was published recently in the American Journal of Public Health.