Crib Deaths Prompt Drop-Side Crib Hazard Warning by CPSC

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CPSC issues drop-side crib hazard warningAt least 32 infants have suffocated or strangled in drop-side cribs in the past nine years, prompting the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue a warning about the "deadly hazards with drop-side cribs."

One Crib recall after another in recent years has been due to hardware or assembly problems with the once-standard drop-side cribs. Just in the past five years, more than seven million of these cribs have been the subject of 11 recaIls.

Three of the recalls were issued in the past week: Graco and Simplicity brands on the same day, and then C&T and Sorelle a few days later.Pressure has been mounting on the child products manufacturing industry to stop making the cribs. The biggest baby-products retailer in the country, Babies R Us/Toys R Us, has already stopped selling them and CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum has said a new standard for making cribs will be issued before the year is out that will essentially ban drop-side cribs.

"The weak industry standards that have been in place have put children in harm's way in many ways, not just through drop-side cribs," said Nancy Cowles, executive director of the advocacy group Kids in Danger. "The new mandatory standard, due to be in place by the end of this year, will go far to making sure all cribs are safe."

Her group has long advocated for safer cribs and offers a detailed explanation about the problems with those that have drop-sides.

Hardware on the drop-side cribs can break and cause the drop-side to detach, leaving a gap that can trap and strangle or smother a young child. The CPSC has a series of images showing the various ways a baby can be injured or killed by the cribs. Improper assembly has been blamed in some cases. Another problem arises, the CPSC said, when parents attempt to jury-rig a repair for the crib.

One of the biggest concerns is over the millions of these cribs that are still in homes and childcare locations around the country. The safety agency said it is not prepared to call all drop-side cribs a lethal hazard, but said it is reasonable to conclude that they are more likely to fail and the older the crib, the more hazards there are likely to be.

The CPSC offers the following advice and warnings to consumers:
  • Check your crib regularly and make sure it has not already been recalled.
  • Repeated assembly and disassembly can lead to more problems.
  • The normal warping and shrinking of wood over time can cause joints and slats in cribs to fail.
  • Do not use a crib with parts that are missing or damaged.
  • Tighten hardware to ensure the crib remains sturdy.
  • Check the crib's sides and corners to see if the sections are coming apart -- that is a lethal hazard.
  • Do not attempt to repair the crib yourself.

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