CPSC Votes Unanimously to Outlaw Drop-Side Cribs

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After thousands of recalls and the untimely deaths of more than 30 infants and toddlers in the past decade, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has unanimously voted to formally outlaw the manufacture, sale, and resale of drop-side cribs, those which have a side rail that moves up and down allowing parents to more easily access their child and lift them from the crib.

Drop-side cribs have been implicated in a total of 32 deaths of infants and toddlers since 2000 and are suspected in another 14, according to reports received by the CPSC. Of the 32 known cases, some occurred in cribs where the drop side detached without caregivers noticing. Some parents tried to repair known detachments, but the repair ultimately failed. Other incidents occurred because confusion or incorrect directions caused improper assembly of the crib.

Federal standards for cribs haven’t been updated since 1982, says CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. The changes should “help usher a new generation of safer cribs to the marketplace,” she said, and “help to ensure that young children sleep more safely.”

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Drop-side cribs are dangerous because of malfunctioning hardware, cheap plastics, or assembly problems that can lead to the drop-side rail to partially detach from the crib. This creates a V-shaped gap between the mattress and side rail where a baby can get caught and suffocate or strangle.

In the past five years, more than 9 million drop-side cribs have been recalled. Most manufacturers have already begun phasing out drop-side cribs and have returned to making cribs with four fixed sides.

In addition to banning drop-side cribs, the CPSC has also issued tougher safety testing guidelines for cribs and better labeling on crib pieces to reduce assembly problems. The new standards will likely take effect in June of next year. Hotels and child-care facilities will have up to a year to purchase new cribs.

Parents who still have drop-side cribs are advised to check the hardware on the cribs to be certain its working properly and to make sure the crib has not been recalled. The CPSC website also offers a checklist for parents to ensure that the crib they have is working properly. Also, the longer a crib is used, more wear and tear occurs to the hardware and joints, allowing parts to fall out or break.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of serious injury or death from consumer products. To report a dangerous product or product-related injury, contact the CPSC at (800) 638-2772.

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