Infant rockers blamed for 14 deaths; U.S. officials, Fisher-Price issue warning

Source: : 2022-06-15 16:59:15 : Kathryn Mannie

U.S. consumer safety officials are warning parents against the use of infant rockers for sleep after finding at least 14 reports of child deaths linked to primarily Fisher-Price products.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a joint warning alongside Fisher-Price on Tuesday, detailing how 13 deaths between 2009 and 2021 have involved the company’s Infant-to-Toddler Rockers and Newborn-to-Toddler Rockers. Fisher-Price has sold more than 17 million of these products since the 1990s.

Another death was reported in 2019 involving an infant in a Bright Starts Rocker produced by Kids2. Kids2 has sold more than 1.8 million rockers worldwide since 2012, according to a separate joint statement with the CPSC.

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“Parents and caregivers should never use inclined products, such as rockers, gliders, soothers, and swings, for infant sleep and should not leave infants in these products unsupervised, unrestrained, or with bedding material, due to the risk of suffocation,” the agency and companies warn.

CPSC commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. issued a statement pointing out that the agency has dealt with an issue like this before.

“Just three years ago, this agency oversaw the recall of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play after a staggering number of infant deaths. Tragically, we now grieve 13 more infant deaths in Fisher Price Rockers,” Trumka wrote.

About four million Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play products were recalled in 2019 after being linked to more than 30 infant deaths, a federal committee found.

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In this most recent case, Trumka said the agency became aware of the high number of deaths more than two months ago. The agency wasn’t able to warn consumers then because of a “gag rule,” Trumka said, which restricts the CPSC from issuing warnings like this until the company in question has a chance to respond.

Under the current law, manufacturers have a right to argue that certain information about their products should be kept confidential, and thus the CPSC must wait for approval before making public announcements.

Trumka said Fisher-Price co-operated with the agency, but “we fought an uphill battle to release this information to warn parents and caregivers.”

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“Congress must immediately repeal the Gag Rule,” Trumka added. “If CPSC cannot issue timely warnings, dangers will remain hidden in people’s homes.”

Teresa Murray, director of the Consumer Watchdog office of the United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, released a statement in support of Trumka.

“It makes me sick inside to think that babies may have died after authorities were investigating suspicious deaths involving rockers,” Murray said. “Commissioner Trumka is right: Congress should take action to revoke what the CPSC calls the ‘gag rule’ so regulators who want to protect us can do their jobs properly.”

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Fisher-Price released a statement after the joint warning was issued, stating: “We remain committed to educating parents and caregivers on the safe use of all of our products, including the importance of following all warnings and instructions to ensure the health and safety of babies and children.”

The CPSC recently mandated that “infant sleep products have a sleep surface angle of 10 degrees or less.” The rule will come into effect on June 23.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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