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Nursery Product Injuries Sending More Children to the ER

Feb 29, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Shockingly, nursery products were involved in over 66,000 injuries to children that involved emergency room visits in 2006, up11% from 2005, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  The agency said in a report yesterday that the number of injuries to infants and children under age five involving cribs, high chairs, walkers, and other items rose by 6,600 from 59,800 in 2005.  CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said that safety officials are not sure why nursery-product injuries increased after experiencing a decline in 2005. "We cannot identify the reason for the increase but it is a concern for the agency," Ms. Vallese said.

The report said the incidents weren't necessarily caused by product failures.  For instance, falls were the leading cause of injuries related to nursery products, with head injuries accounting for 42% of all injuries.  The report didn't provide injury data from 2007, a year plagued by an unprecedented number of product recalls that has forced Congress to consider the first overhaul of federal product-safety legislation in a generation.  The CPSC also reported that in the years from 2002 through 2004, 241 children died from injuries linked to cribs, baby baths, play yards, strollers, and other nursery equipment.  While approximately 40% of the deaths during the three-year period involved cribs, the deaths were not always caused by the cribs, according to the report.  CPSC researchers excluded deaths for which coroners listed Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as a cause or where no information was available about how the death occurred.  According to Vallese, the death figures—which lag behind injury statistics—are
generally collected from death certificates and are collected separately from the injury figures.

Don Mays, senior director of product safety and technical public policy for Consumers Union, an advocacy group, said the number of injuries connected with cribs, as well as recent large crib recalls, point to a need for new federal requirements for crib durability testing.  The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents manufacturers and importers of nursery equipment, said in a statement that they were "concerned about any reports regarding the injury or death of our nation's children," but that caregivers were often at fault.

Yesterday, the CPSC and Munire Furniture, Inc. announced the recall of 24,000 Majestic Curved Top and Flat Top Cribs, Essex Cribs, Brighton/Sussex Cribs, and Captiva Cribs which failed to meet federal safety standards and pose a fall hazard.  Earlier this year, Bassettbaby recalled its Wendy Bellissimo Hidden Hills Collection cribs because they posed an entrapment and strangulation hazard.  In a prior recall, Bassettbaby and the CPSC were slow to respond to complaints and Bassettbaby was unhelpful to parents with problems with the Wendy Bellisimo convertible crib.  A recall was finally issued due to an entrapment and strangulation hazard that involved several models.  In September, close to one million Graco and Simplicity cribs were recalled for a design flaw resulting in three deaths.  According to the Chicago Tribune, when the CPSC looked into the death of a nine-month old boy, the inspector never bothered to identify the crib nor did he inspect the crib.

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