Federal Safety Regulator Promises To Ban Drop-Side Cribs

The Chief of the Consumer Product Safety Commission has promised a ban on the sale and manufacture of cribs that in the last decade have been linked to the strangulation or suffocation of at least 32 children.

The nation’s top consumer products regulator has committed to enacting a mandatory safety standard that will ban the sale and manufacture of baby cribs with sides that drop down, and which fixture of the American nursery has been linked to dozens of children’s deaths.

Inez Tenenbaum, Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairwoman made the pledge, as for the first time her agency revealed 32 children had suffocated or been strangled, due to the drop sides of their cribs separating. According to the commission, most of the deaths have occurred in the last few years.

Another 14 entrapment deaths in cribs could be due to the drop-side failure, however, the agency does not have sufficient information to be certain.

The repeated raising and lowering of a crib’s side weakens or breaks the hardware, with the side coming off its track, an a drop side separating from a crib, creates a potentially fatal gap, as babies and toddlers falling into that gap hang to death.

The commission has issued a recall of over 7 million such drop-side cribs, under the names C&T International, Sorelle and Golden Baby were recalled due to infant injuries. Last week, the agency announced a recall of thousands of Simplicity and Graco cribs, with Tenenbaum, who took office in June saying more recalls may be in the works, as crib safety is a top priority, with her agency investigating other crib-makers for drop-side hazards.

The implications of such a ban will be far-reaching, with a law passed last year making such a ban retroactive for most hotels and licensed child-care centres, who will have to get rid of all drop side cribs, once the federal safety standard is enacted.

Major crib manufacturers agreed to a voluntary ban on drop sides this year, however, that agreement does not have the teeth of a federal safety standard.

Some manufacturers have begun working on designs with four fixed sides and a short fold-down gate at the top allowing parents the same easy access to babies, which designs do not pose the same entrapment hazard.