Congress working to ban drop-side cribs

According to the Associated Press, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is preparing legislation to ban the manufacture, sale and resale of all drop-side cribs, as well as ban them from day-care centers and hotels. Gillibrand hopes the legislation that will be introduced this week, will accelerate efforts for a ban, either via Congress or the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and draw concerns to parents who are using them drop-side cribs.

Senator Gillibrand is pushing this because 6-month-old Bobby Cirigliano of North Bellmore, NY died as a result of his drop-side crib. The side rail on his drop-side crib slid off the tracks and trapped his head and neck between the mattress and the malfunctioning side rail. His face pressed against the mattress. Sadly he suffocated.

Bobby was one of at least 32 infants and toddlers since 2000 who suffocated or were strangled in a drop-side crib, which has a side that moves up and down to allow parents to lift children from the cribs more easily than cribs with fixed sides. Drop-sides, which have been around for decades and used by many of today’s parents, are suspected in an additional 14 infant fatalities during that time.

CPSC which regulates cribs, has warned about the problem. Its chairman, Inez Tenenbaum, has pledged to ban the manufacture and sale of cribs by the end of the year with a new performance standard that would make fixed-side cribs mandatory. It could be several months into 2011 before becoming effective.

The industry has already started phasing out drop-sides and big retailers such as Babies R Us and Wal-Mart have taken them off sale floors. However with Internet, many of these cribs are still for sale online, giving cause for Congress to get involved.

Senator Giilbrand said “There’s a great urgency here. We have to make sure that no parent is unaware that drop-side cribs could kill their children. There still are thousands and thousands of children who are sleeping every night in drop-side cribs and we need to protect them.”

The Senator will outline her bill today in a news conference joined by Bobby Cirigliano’s parents and the family of 10-month-old Tyler Witte, who died in a drop-side crib in 1997.

More than 7 million of these cribs have been recalled in the past five years, often because screws, safety pegs or plastic tracking for the rail can come loose or break. The industry insists that babies are safe in drop-sides that haven’t been recalled.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents over 90 percent of the crib industry, believes the cribs are safe when assembled and used properly, but you can’t gamble your child’s life when so many deaths have occurred from these cribs.

CPSC pledges to vote on a ban by year’s end. Both Nassau and Suffolk, on Long Island — have banned the sale of drop-sides.

Late last year, crib manufacturers were already moving in that direction when they voted to eliminate the drop-side design and instead opt for four fixed sides, but the standard is a voluntary one.

Despite the industry’s move to end production, there are plenty of new and used drop-side cribs for sale online. The Associated Press found drop-sides for purchase on websites for Sears, Kmart and Craigslist also had scores of used drop-side cribs for sale.

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association
CPSC crib information
House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing

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