The Consumer Product Safety Commission is once again warning parents and caregivers about deadly hazards with drop-side cribs. In the last five years the CPSC has recalled more than 7 million drop-side cribs due to suffocation and strangulation hazards in 11 separate recalls.
The agency is currently investigating crib safety and plans to initiate a new mandatory federal standard for cribs this year. Many manufacturers have already stopped selling drop-side cribs or will do so beginning June 1, 2010.
What CPSC has found
Since January 2000 it has been made aware of 32 infant and toddler suffocation and strangulation deaths and hundreds of injuries caused by drop-side cribs.
There are also 14 other deaths to due entrapment in cribs that could be related to a drop-side. In some of these cases consumers tried to repair the detached drop side, but the repair ultimately failed.
In other cases, consumers unknowingly installed the drop side or drop-side hardware incorrectly. Some happened because of incorrect or confusing directions. The drop side still appeared to work properly, but investigators found the stress on the crib hardware resulted in the drop-side detachment.
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.
What should you do?
Here's a statement from the CPSC:
While the CPSC 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 dis-assembly 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.
You can also find information on all kinds of baby product recalls here.