As most parents should now be aware, unsafe sleeping environments are a major risk factor for babies and infants, and can lead to injury and even death. Last week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a new initiative designed to help minimize these risks. Our Chicago child injury attorneys applaud the new initiative, and urge the CPSC to do more than talk: to set standards and rules that ensure the safety of our nation’s children.
The new “Safe Sleep for Babies” initiative is designed to educate new and expectant parents on how to create a safe sleeping environment for infants. The initiative is a joint effort by the CPSC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the non-profit Keeping Babies Safe, NewYork- Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and the well-known journalist (and mother) Joan Lunden. Its primary tool is the distribution of a video by the same name, which will be available at hospitals nationwide, or can be viewed online at the CPSC’s website, as well as at www.keepingbabiessafe.org and the AAP’s parent-education website, www.healthychildren.org. The essential safety tips urged by the video are:
- Always lay an infant on his back to sleep
- Mattresses should be firm and fit tightly against the crib’s sides
- Never use extra padding, blankets or pillows with infants
- Never use infant positioners
- Check cribs often for loose, missing or broken parts
- If a crib is broken, do not attempt repair
- Never place a crib or playpen near a window, window covering cord, or baby monitor cord.
In spite of this laudable educational effort, our Chicago personal injury attorneys cannot help but wonder why dangerous cribs – one of the biggest risks to infants – are still being allowed to reach the market. Together with the announcement of the “Safe Sleep for Babies” initiative, the CPSC announced three new recalls of dangerous drop-side cribs. The waves of drop-side cribs have now been coming for years, and we are shocked that these recalls have not yet been completed.
Drop side cribs, which have been incredibly popular over the past decade, have three fixed sides. The fourth side, however, is attached to rails, and moves up and down to allow parents easier access to the child in the crib. Unfortunately, as the side is repeatedly raised and lowered to access the infant, the parts can become stressed and worn down. When the hardware securing the drop side weakens or breaks, the drop side can come partially off its track, creating a small separation between the side and the crib mattress. Infants can then fall into this gap, leading to suffocation or strangulation. Some infants and even toddlers have literally been hung to their death in the deadly gaps.
Over the course of the past several years, there have been over 32 baby deaths caused by drop side cribs, and at least 14 more have been linked to these dangerous cribs in spite of insufficient evidence to be certain. This is in addition to the scores of infants that have suffered lesser injuries, from mild to serious and including brain injury.
In 2007, years after the dangers of drop side cribs first became known, the CPSC finally oversaw the first recall. Since then, over 9 million such cribs have been recalled. And although the CPSC committed this spring to putting in place a federal ban on such cribs, there is as yet no such ban in place, and if it is enacted it will not take effect until at least next year.
Our products liability lawyers are shocked by this inaction. That a ban is not yet in place in spite of the large and well-known danger of drop-side cribs is bad enough. But the fact that, three years after the first recall, the recalls have not yet all been completed is perhaps even more shocking.
The evidence continues to mount that companies are continuing to manufacture and sell these cribs – and to willfully delay in recalling them – for literally years after the dangers have been known. This is negligence and disregard for innocent life at its very worst. If your child was injured or killed by a drop side crib, you likely have a cause of action, and our Chicago wrongful death attorneys urge you to take action to put a stop to these dangerous products and practices.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.