Deaths Prompt Simplicity Bassinet Warning, But No Recall

A popular <"">Simplicity bassinet has been implicated in two infant deaths since last September, but has yet to be recalled. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has warned parents to stop using the Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets because they contain metal bars spaced farther apart than federal standards allow. However, the company that now owns Simplicity has defied the CPSC and is refusing to recall the deadly bassinets.

Last September, a Simplicity Winnie the Pooh 4-in-1 Bassinet claimed the life of a 4-month-old Missouri girl. The infant had slipped out the side of the bassinet between a lower horizontal railing and her mattress, and had become trapped in a 4-inch gap between the railing and top of the mattress. The little girl’s death was ruled an “accidental positional asphyxiation.”

The same bassinet has been blamed in the death of a six-month-old child in Kansas last Thursday. Again, the little girl slipped between the mattress and the side railing after the mattress came loose from the frame.

The CPSC is now urging parents and caregivers to stop using convertible “close-sleeper/bedside sleeper” bassinets manufactured by Simplicity Inc. In addition to the 4-in-1 version implicated in the two deaths, the warning also applies to 3-in-1 models because the beds share the same design.

Neither of the deadly beds are being recalled because SFCA Inc., the company which purchased all of Simplicity Inc.’s assets at public auction in April 2008, has refused to cooperate with the government and recall the products. According to the CPSC, SFCA maintains that it is not responsible for products previously manufactured by Simplicity Inc.

SFCA acquired Simplicity when the company ran into financial difficulty following a crib recall that occurred last summer. In August 2007, the CPSC issued a recall notice for 1.2 million Simplicity and Graco cribs because a flaw in the design of the cribs allowed parents to install the drop rail upside down. When this happened, the drop rail could separate from the crib, creating a gap into which a child could fall and suffocate. Three children died in those faulty cribs before they were finally recalled.

The CPSC was subjected to harsh criticism following that crib recall. When the agency investigated the death of a 9-month-old boy in one of the recalled cribs in 2005, its inspector did not even bother to identify the type of crib involved in his death. According to that child’s parents, the CPSC did not even inspect the Simplicity crib that killed him. And according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the CPSC only decided to issue the Simplicity and Graco crib recall after it learned that the newspaper was about to publish an expose detailing the agency’s shoddy 2005 investigation.

Now, the CPSC will likely face more questions following today’s Simplicity Bassinet warning. Many people are going to want to know why the agency did not recall the bassinets following the first death last September. Commission spokeswoman Julie Vallese told the Chicago Tribune that the CPSC did not recall the bassinet last fall because “the investigation of a baby’s death in October 2007 remains open because there are still questions surrounding the circumstances of that baby’s death.”

But the coroner who investigated that baby’s death told the Tribune that is not true. “It was clear-cut,” McDonald County Coroner B.J. Goodwin III said. “We all felt it was the crib that caused the passing.”

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