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Dangerous Drop-Side Cribs May be Banned

Mar 19, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Concerns over infant deaths and injuries have sparked a call to ban drop-side cribs.  According to The Chicago Tribune, the call is coming from crib manufacturers themselves.  

Drop-side cribs are popular because they allow caregivers to easily access the beds.  But as anyone who reads this site knows, drop-side cribs have been the subject of numerous recalls, many of which occurred after children were injured - and in some cases killed - because of defective cribs.

Poor design, poorly written assembly directions, or broken pieces can all cause the side rail to fall unexpectedly, or separate from the rest of the bed, creating an entrapment hazard.  These types of problems have resulted in a series of recalls:

  • Last October, Delta Enterprises announced it was recalling for repair 1.6 million drop-side cribs for strangulation and entrapment hazards after they were implicated in the deaths of two 8-month old infants.
  • Just a week earlier, Playkids USA of Brooklyn, New York recalled 2000 portable cribs  following the death of a 5-month-old child.  The baby suffocated to death last August after becoming entrapped between the mattress and the drop-side rail of the convertible crib.
  • Also last August, dozens of retailers recalled defective Simplicity bassinets that were implicated in the deaths of two children.  Again, the drop-side rail on the beds was prone to coming off, creating a gap where infants and toddlers could become trapped and be strangled.  Just a month later, 600,000 Simplicity cribs, including the Aspen and Crib N Changer Combo, Gabrielle, Camille, Providence and Shenandoah models, were recalled for a similar defect.
  • In August 2007, a recall notice was issued 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. Three children died in those faulty cribs before they were finally recalled.


According to the Chicago Tribune, major crib manufacturers have signed on to a proposal that would ban drop-side cribs in the U.S.  Proposed new rules would require that all four sides of the crib be rigidly attached to one another. That eliminates the moving parts that have broken loose and created entrapment hazards, the Tribune said.  A small portion of the top of a crib railing would be allowed to fold down, so that people who need it would still have easier access to the crib.

The Tribune is reporting that the proposal was approved on Tuesday, at a meeting of ASTM International, a standards organization. The proposal now goes to a broader group of ASTM members for a vote.

It could take months for the proposal to be adopted, and if it is, the standards would be strictly voluntary.  But the fact that so many major crib manufacturers and retailers support it is an encouraging sign, the Chicago Tribune said.  


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