Defective Cribs Can Endanger Children Even After a Recall

<"">Crib recalls are occurring with increasing frequency.  According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC),  more than 3 million dangerously defective cribs have been recalled in just the past two years.  Unfortunately, many of the those faulty cribs weren’t recalled until they had killed children.

In many instances, when a crib is recalled, consumers are told to contact the manufacturer to obtain a kit that is meant to fix a defect.  That solution is controversial with many consumer advocates who believe defective cribs should be removed from the market altogether.  Now, a Chicago Tribune investigation has found that in at least one instance, a repair kit alone was not enough to make a recalled crib safe.

Last month, Delta Enterprises, Inc. issued a recall for 1.6 million defective cribs. At least 60,000 of those cribs were recalled because of defective spring pegs that could fail and create an entrapment hazard.   The remaining  cribs were recalled because of fears that beds that had been reassembled could be missing their safety pegs, which could also create an entrapment hazard.  At the time, the CPSC said that the recalled cribs had been implicated in the deaths of two children.

The CPSC and Delta offered  parents and caregivers free repair kits to fix both problems.  But according to the Tribune’s report, the cribs have other safety problems that have yet to be addressed by the CPSC or Delta.

In its own review of government documents, the Tribune found 19 instances were the mattress platform in a Delta crib collapsed, creating yet another entrapment hazard. According to the report, this sometimes happened because the cribs were incorrectly assembled.  Assembly mistakes were common  because the stabilizer bar that supports the mattress in Delta cribs looks normal even when it is installed upside down.  And the manual that comes with the beds does not provide consumers with very clear assembly instructions, the Tribune said.

Delta told the Tribune that it is looking into the problem, but insists the cribs are safe when assembled correctly.  But the Tribune’s investigation disputes that assertion, as records indicated that not all mattress collapses could be tracked to improper assembly.  In some cases reviewed by the paper, the cause was attributed to mechanical failure, including joint problems, caused by manufacturing defects.  In one case, the problem was as simple as a joint that lacked sufficient glue.

As anyone who regularly reads this site knows, crib recalls are depressingly common. A week before the Delta recall, Playkids USA of Brooklyn, New York recalled 2000 portable cribs  following the death of a 5-month-old child.  The baby suffocated to death in August after becoming entrapped between the mattress and the drop side rail of the convertible crib.

In August, dozens of retailers recalled defective Simplicity bassinets that were implicated in the deaths of two children.  In addition to the August bassinet recall, Simplicity recalled 1 million cribs in September 2007.

All of these recalls have involved defective hardware.  According to the CPSC, cribs with drop sides are the type most likely to experience hardware problems.. These types of defects are often undetected by parents or caregivers and can worsen when the baby pushes or leans against the side of the crib.  As we reported last month, the rash of recalls has prompted the CPSC to consider new rules governing cribs.  If adopted, new mandatory rules would replaced current safety standards that are now only voluntary.

But it will take time for the CPSC to formulate and implement such rule changes.  In the meantime, many parents might be wondering how they can insure that there child is safe in a crib.   To help, the CPSC has issued the following advice to caregivers regarding crib safety:

  • Parents should not use any crib with missing, broken or loose parts.
  • Hardware should be inspected from time to time and tightened to keep the crib sturdy.
  • When using a drop side crib parents should check to make sure the drop side or any other moving part operates smoothly on its track.
  • Always check all sides and corners of the crib for disengagement. Any disengagement can create a gap and entrap a child.
  • Do not try to repair any side of the crib without manufacturer approved hardware or with tape, wire or rope.
  • Putting a broken side up against the wall does not solve the problem and can often make it worse.
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