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Drop-Side Cribs Banned Due to Safety Issues

Cribs Were Blamed for Dozens of Infant Deaths Over the Last Decade

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 15, 2010 -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission is banning cribs with drop-down sides because they have been blamed for the deaths of at least 32 infants since 2001.

The announcement from the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who has pushed for such a ban, says new federal crib standards will take effect in June, stopping the sale, manufacture, resale, and distribution of drop-side cribs.

The new rules also will prohibit drop-side crib use at motels, hotels, and child care facilities.

The announcement was made in Washington by Gillibrand, Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and the parent of a child said to have died because of a faulty crib.

The CPSC's new standards also will require mattress supports to be stronger, crib hardware to be sturdier, and more rigorous safety testing of baby beds.

The CPSC, the government's top regulator of children's products, says cribs with drop-down sides have hidden hazards that can cause strangulation or suffocation.

Numerous Recalls

The CPSC's board voted unanimously to ban the drop-side cribs, which have been under scrutiny for many years. They have always been popular because the drop-side moves up and down and allows parents to lift infants from the cribs with ease.

Drop-side cribs have been recalled by the millions. In June alone, more than 2 million were recalled. Since last January, about 1.5 million cribs have been recalled, not counting those in June, according to the statement from Gillibrand's office.

That statement says Gillibrand and Crowley launched an effort in Congress to ban all drop-side cribs and that today's announcement addresses a requirement in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that calls for all major juvenile products to have the strongest possible mandatory safety standards.

"Enough is enough," Gillibrand says in her statement. "Time and time again, drop-side cribs have trapped and suffocated infants, destroying families across the country."

She says the products "are deadly" and the new rules will save lives.

Preventing Infant Deaths

Tenenbaum says in the statement that she had made a promise to Congress to toughen crib standards and now has fulfilled that pledge.

"After nearly 30 years, these new crib safety rules will usher in a new generation of safer cribs," Tenenbaum says. "I believe that a safe crib is the safest place for a baby to sleep and our actions today will help parents have confidence in the safety of cribs they buy in the future."

Crowley says that "unsafe equipment has absolutely no place in the nursery and today's move by the commission will help keep our children safe."

Schakowsky says the new standards "will finally end the unconscionable and preventable drop-side crib tragedies that have injured or killed infants and children."

Michele Witte, who lives in Long Island, N.Y., was with the officials when the new rules were announced. She says she lost a child, a 10-month old boy named Tyler, due to a drop-side crib.

The news release says more than 11 million drop-side cribs have been recalled in the past three years.

Advice for Parents

The CPSC says parents using drop-side cribs should check the beds to make sure they work properly and haven't been the subject of a recall. The Juvenile Products Association, which represents most of the crib industry, says most that are assembled properly and that haven't been recalled can be used safely.

It says in a news release that it has filed "comments in support of a timely and orderly transition to the new standard," which will have a "negligible impact" on manufacturers.

However, the organization says it is concerned "that there be a timely and orderly transition to products which meet the new standard so as to ensure enough product in the marketplace by the compliance date, without the burden of re-testing already safe product."

SOURCES: News release, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.News release, Juvenile Products Association.

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