Federal safety officials indicate that a brand of bed-side infant sleepers may pose a serious and potentially life-threatening risk for babies, warning consumers to stop using the product while regulators are working to get them recalled, due to the risk that infants may roll over and become entrapped or suffocate.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued the “SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleeper” warning on January 16, instructing the public to stop using the inclined sleepers immediately, after more than 70 infant fatalities have been linked to similar designs on other sleeper products.
Inclining infant sleepers and bassinets are designed to elevate the baby’s head and torso. Inclining the infant during sleep is intended to help prevent acid-reflux or congestion. However, the design has proven to be potentially deadly after babies are old enough to roll over on their own, or if the incline of the bassinet forces the child’s chin down to his or her neck, creating an airway blockage.
The CPSC’s warning includes SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleepers manufactured by Summer Infant’s Inc. and sold throughout the United States at various retailers and online through Amazon.com. While the CPSC has not received any reported fatalities or injuries specifically associated with the SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleeper products, the agency’s evaluation and outside expert analysis have deemed the products unsafe for infants.
The CPSC is pressing for Summer Infant’s Inc. to issue a recall of the products, but have not yet reached an agreement with the manufacturer to do so. At this time, the CPSC is unaware of how many SwaddleMe By Your Bed Sleepers may have been sold to consumers.
The warning and the negotiations over the recall come as some lawmakers seek to give the CPSC more power to warn consumers about dangerous products and potentially force manufacturers to pull dangerous products off the market.
U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush introduced the Safety Hazard and Recall Efficiency (SHARE) Information Act on January 9, which would amend The Consumer Product Safety Act, by allowing the governing agency to provide consumers critical information regarding hazardous products in a timely manner, without the expressed permission from manufacturers and without the threat of facing a lawsuit from the manufacturer.
The legislation would also increase the civil penalties on those who violate information sharing requirements or continue to selling dangerous products. Rush said the legislation came, in part, as a result of the inclined sleepers problems, which were known for years before the public was warned.
Inclined Sleeper Risks
The warning and legislation follow a series of recalls and investigations that have questioned the safety of all infant inclined sleeper products, with many experts claiming the products are unsafe because they can allow an infant’s head to slump forward and interfere with breathing, leading to suffocation and death.
Inclined infant sleeper safety concerns were disclosed to the public in April 2019, when the CPSC issued a Fisher-Price Rock’n Play warning, instructing consumers to stop placing their infants in the sleepers by three months old, or before they begin to show signs that they can roll over independently.
In response to the warning, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) challenged the commissions warning, noting that parents will not know the exact moment a child gains the ability to roll over.
Several manufacturers issued recalls of inclined sleepers following the warning, including Fisher-Price’s recall of 4.7 million Rock’n Play Sleepers and a recall of 694,000 Kids II inclined rocking sleepers. Fischer-Price subsequently released an additional inclined sleeper recall in June, impacting 71,000 inclined sleeping accessories sold with their Ultra-Lite Day & Night Play Yards.
The CPSC sponsored an independent inclined infant sleeper study by Erin Mannen, Ph.D., a mechanical engineer specializing in biomechanics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, to determine whether inclined sleep products are safe for consumer use, and found none of the inclined sleep products her team tested offered a safe sleep environment for infants. Devices with over a 10 degree angle in particular created increased sleep hazards.
After the study was concluded, the CPSC voted to move forward with a proposed ban on all inclined sleepers for infants in October 2019. To date, the CPSC has received 1,108 incidents, including 73 infant deaths related to infant inclined sleep products that occurred from January 2005 through June 2019.
Retailers such as Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, eBay, Walmart, and several other major outlets have pledged to stop selling infant inclined sleepers as a result. However, it is estimated that millions remain in consumers and daycare facilities possession.
Fischer-Price faces a number of inclined sleeper individual wrongful death lawsuits, as well as a class action lawsuit alleging the manufacturer knew or should have known about the risk of problems, yet delayed announcing a recall or warning, and knowingly allowed parents to continue purchasing life threatening sleeper devices.