On December 22, 2022, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of weighted blankets, sold by Target. The recall was issued after two girls in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, ages 4 and 6, reportedly became trapped under the blanket and died due to asphyxia. Target has received four reports of children becoming entrapped by unzipping the cover and entering the blanket.
Target is recalling about 204,000 of the Pillowfort Weighted Blankets. They were made in China and sold nationwide, exclusively by Target, from September 2018 to September 2022.
The blankets weigh six pounds and measure 60 inches long and 40 inches wide. They come in many colors and patterns. ID numbers, located on the fabric tag, for the relevant blankets, are:
- 097-02-0140 (Unicorn – White)
- 097-02-0148 (Space Navy)
- 097-02-0363 (Blue)
- 097-02-0364 (Gray)
- 097-02-1603 (Buffalo Plaid – Red)
- 097-02-3904 (Blue Constellation)
- 097-02-3905 (Unicorn – Pink)
Consumers should stop using the blankets immediately, for a credit for the retail price of $40. Blankets can be returned by calling Target (800-440-0680, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET) for a prepaid return mail label, or they can be returned directly to any Target store.
Sales of weighted blankets (sometimes referred to as gravity blankets or anxiety blankets) have grown in the past few years, as manufacturers have promoted them as helpful with sleep and anxiety issues. According to Target’s website, “Weighted blankets are filled with microbeads that make the blankets heavy, which may have a calming effect on some people.” Wired describes weighted blankets using “pressure to simulate the feeling of being held.” CNET refers to weighted blankets as “essentially a full-body hug.”
Some weighted blanket advocates, including Professor Justin Scanlan at the University of Sydney, point to Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) as a benefit. The deep pressure sensation is meant to be soothing and pleasant, like compression-based touch (swaddling, massage, hugs). According to Scanlan, pressure reduces physiological arousal associated with anxiety.
The evidence of the value of weighted blankets is limited. A small 2015 Swedish study found that participants who used the weighted blanket had a calmer night’s sleep, possibly indicating that weighted blankets help reduce insomnia. Recent research in Sweden suggests that the use of a weighted blanket may help produce more melatonin, the hormone that helps sleep.
According to Cara Kocsinski, occupational therapist and co-author of “The Weighted Blanket Guide,” weighted blankets are also popular among people with autism, anxiety, arthritis, chronic pain, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Kocsinski warns against using a weighted blanket on infants or young children.
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