As part of its commitment to ensure safe sleep for young children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is once again warning parents and caregivers about deadly hazards with drop-side cribs. In the last five years, CPSC has announced 11 recalls involving more than 7 million drop-side cribs due to suffocation and strangulation hazards created by the drop side. CPSC staff is actively investigating several other crib manufacturers for potential drop-side hazards as part of a larger effort by the agency to rid the marketplace and homes of unsafe cribs. CPSC will continue to take aggressive action to address any risks and will keep the public informed.
CPSC staff has completed a comprehensive review of crib-related infant fatalities reported to the agency between January 2000 and the present. CPSC staff is aware of 32 infant and toddler suffocation and strangulation deaths and hundreds of incidents that were caused by or related to drop-side detachments in cribs made by various manufacturers.
In addition to the 32 deaths the CPSC staff associated with the drop-side detachments, CPSC has received an additional 14 reports of infant fatalities due to entrapment in cribs that could be related to a drop side. The information obtained was insufficient for staff to conclusively determine whether or not the drop side was involved. Of the 32 deaths that were analyzed, some occurred in cribs where the drop side detached without caregivers noticing the detachment, while some other deaths occurred after a consumer tried to repair the detached drop side, but the repair ultimately failed.
In other incidents, consumers unknowingly installed the drop side or drop-side hardware incorrectly. In several cases, this occurred due to incorrect or confusing directions. In these incidents, the drop side still appeared to function as intended, but the stress on the crib hardware resulted in the drop-side detachment.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum has committed to parents and caregivers that there will be a new and vastly improved mandatory federal standard for cribs this year. The standard will incorporate, at minimum, the new voluntary standard banning drop-side cribs from the United States market. Due to the new voluntary industry standard, many manufacturers have already stopped selling drop-side cribs or will do so beginning June 1, 2010.
CPSC technical staff has determined drop-side cribs generally have a tendency to be less structurally sound than cribs with four fixed sides. Drop-side hardware is prone to break, deform or experience other problems during normal or foreseeable use. The older the crib, the more problems can be expected. When drop-side hardware breaks or deforms, the drop side can detach in one or more corners from the crib. If an infant or toddler rolls or moves into the space created by a partially detached drop side, the child can become entrapped or wedged between the crib mattress and the drop side and suffocate. Infants can also strangle in the “V” shape formed by a drop side that detaches in an upper corner.
Advice to Consumers
Check your crib regularly and make sure it has not already been recalled.
While CPSC staff cannot say that every drop-side crib is hazardous, based on investigations of incidents we have received, the agency believes that overall most drop-side cribs are more prone to mechanical failure than similar designed fixed-side cribs. In addition, older cribs may not meet current voluntary standards. Factors that contribute to safety problems in older cribs include:
The longer a crib is used, the more wear and tear on hardware and joints, allowing screws to loosen and fall out and plastic parts to flex and break.
Repeated assembly and disassembly increases likelihood that crib parts can be damaged or lost.
Wood warps and shrinks over time and glue can become brittle. This can lead to joint and slat failures.
Important Message from CPSC: CPSC reminds parents not to use any crib with missing, broken, or loose parts. Make sure to tighten hardware from time to time 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. Always check all sides and corners of the crib for disengagement. Disengagements can create a gap and entrap a child. In addition, do not try to repair any side of the crib. Babies have died in cribs where repairs were attempted by caregivers.
If your baby is less than six months old and is not yet able to push up to his/her hands and knees, you can put your baby to sleep in a bassinet. Make sure your bassinet has not been recalled. Also, you can use a play yard. Do not put additional bedding such as pillows, thick quilts, comforters or anything plush into your baby’s sleeping space. More babies die every year from suffocation in plush sleeping environments than from defective cribs.
Warns parents about deadly hazards.