Ban proposed on drop-side cribs

March 18, 2009 2:28:11 PM PDT
Crib makers have proposed a ban on drop-side cribs because of concerns over infant deaths, injuries and a series of recalls in recent months. Members of a committee that sets industry standards say the proposal would end production of drop-side cribs - where one side moves up and down in order to more easily pick up and lay down a baby. Instead, it would require cribs to have four immovable sides.

Several more votes on the proposal would be necessary and that could take months.

Michael Dwyer, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, an industry trade group, says the proposal put forward at a meeting Tuesday outside Philadelphia would require four fixed sides on a crib. It would allow for a top rail on one side that's about six inches and could fold down to let shorter people or those with back troubles more easily lift a baby.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says at least three children have died in drop-side cribs in the last 18 months and there have been five recalls involving more than three million cribs.

Industry officials say the cribs are safe, but they decided to act after the recalls.

"When a consumer reads that there's been an incident involving a child in a drop-side crib, it's an emotional thing," said Dwyer.

"That builds pressure and we are responding to some of those pressures."

The proposal to ban the cribs was first reported by the Chicago Tribune and would be voted on by a committee at ASTM International, an organization that sets voluntary industry safety standards for everything from toys to the steel used in commercial buildings.

Consumer advocates have complained for years about the cribs because the drop-side can detach, creating a dangerous gap that can lead to the entrapment and suffocation of infants.

"We need to make sure that it does become part of the mandatory standard," said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Chicago-based Kids In Danger. "A crib is the one place where you need to leave a child unattended."

The ASTM committee is made up of manufacturers, consumer advocates, regulators and testing labs, among others.

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