November 23, 2009

Stork-Craft Recalls 2.1 Million Drop-Side Cribs Of Doom In US & Canada

storkcraft_crib_recall.jpgDT's favorite crib guru Scott said it would be big, and now we know just how big the biggest crib recall in history really is: it's as big as the whole freakin' North America, that's how big.

The CPSC and Health Canada jointly announced a recall for 2.1 million drop-side Stork Craft cribs because of a threat of suffocation and entrapment. Four children are known to have suffocated in the gap between the dropside and the mattress.

The recall covers cribs sold between 1993 and last month [!], at all kinds of retailers on- and offline: 1.2 million cribs in the US--including 147,000 cribs sold under the Fisher-Price brand--and almost 1 million cribs in Canada. [Stork Craft is Canadian.] Crib owners are warned to check the drop-side hardware for wear, damage, and correct installation, and to not use the dropside feature until they receive a repair kit from the company.

Anyway, the whole drop-side crib thing is apparently coming to a head, no unfortunate pun intended. The earlier CBS News story this morning says the CPSC chair Inez Tenenbaum is pushing to replace the baby industry's voluntary crib safety standards with strengthened federal regulations.

JPMA, the baby industry trade group, is pushing back and/or covering their asses as well as they can, considering that the standards regime they have lobbied so hard for years to preserve has been thoroughly repudiated by recent recalls of millions and millions of cribs and bassinets, all of which bore the proud "JPMA-Certified" seal of approval.

In a carefully worded resonse to the recall, they tried to simultaneously implicate the CPSC and the media for causing "confusion," and parents for assembling their cribs wrong:

To alleviate confusion that is in the media regarding the recently announced recall of certain drop-side cribs, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), the not for profit trade association that promotes infant safety and the development of recognized ASTM International product safety standards, reassures the public regarding the safety of properly used, drop side cribs.

All new cribs on the market today must meet minimum government requirements. In addition, there are consensus performance standards, which are established by ASTM with involvement of the government and recognized experts, to which JPMA certifies cribs and other durable infant products. JPMA also reminds parents and care givers, that when you assemble a crib to the manufacturer's instructions and use it properly, a crib provides the safest sleeping environment for baby.

Emphasis added to show my love for the way JPMA tries to grab hold of the CPSC as its "voluntary" standards sink into the deep.

I wonder how many more sweeping recalls it will take before the baby industrial complex decides that there is, in fact, a new sheriff in town. I wouldn't want to be in the crib bumper business right now.

Infant Entrapment and Suffocation Prompts Stork Craft to Recall More Than 2.1 Million Drop-Side Cribs [cpsc.gov]
2.1 Million Cribs Are Recalled in U.S. and Canada [ap/nyt]
Massive Crib Recall Set, Sources Say [wcbstv.com via dt reader scott]

6 Comments

Am I missing something? Does the rest of the world have so many problems with drop-sided cribs? If they ban them altogether, how will vertically challenged people (like myself) get their children out? Or change the crib sheets?

I'm thinking that the rest of the world has cribs more like this http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60091931 so the whole thing is a lot lower than our North American cribs of death. :)

Stelly-

By "rest of the world" we really mean Europe. There are very few other countries with a functioning product safety bureaucracy. You can just imagine how many unreported product safety-related infant deaths there must be in China.

As for Europe, they certainly buy their share of cheap dropside cribs. And they do have recalls- I found a few from 05-06, but nothing on the scale we have had. The EU reported 17000 crib related injuries from 2005-2007. By contrast, the US had 62000 emergency room visits in 2007 where a "nursery product" was listed as a causing factor. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say most of those were kids falling off changing tables, and a lot were probably limbs caught in crib slats.

Europe definitely has stricter crib standards right now, although we are probably about to surpass them by a good margin. Dropside cribs are almost certainly done. Even if they're not banned (they likely will be), no insurance carrier is going to write a product liability policy that covers them.

The latest JPMA standard (not yet in effect) banning dropsides still allows for a sort of mini drop side or drop gate that doesn't extend down past the mattress. That's a reasonable compromise for shorter people, and doesn't put the safety of a baby in the hands of a 15 cent piece of plastic.

Storkcraft is no longer just in the crib business – it is now in the child safety business. The company is taking the right steps by issuing the recall, but there are steps both Storkcraft and its customers can take to ensure that this is an effective recall.

I'd hope that Stork-Craft was in the child safety business the last 16 years they've been selling cribs, too. An "effective recall" probably starts with reading the CPSC's notice.

Sara and Scott,
Thanks for the replies. I'm actually from the UK so I was musing what the rest of Europe/world does with cribs. I know the UK ones are shorter and smaller. My daughter has this one at her Grandparent's house http://www.johnlewis.com/230403637/Product.aspx

I guess the more I think about it, the less I understand when cribs became these huge, hulking pieces of nursery furniture that tower 5 feet off the floor. Why can't the US simply move back to shorter models with safer drop-sides instead of abandoning them completely?

Who knows. Hopefully I'm done purchasing cribs for my lifetime, or if I ever need another I'll shell out for the Stokke Sleepi.

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