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Study Shows 10% of Daycare Centers Still Using Inclined Sleepers Linked to Infant Deaths

Following recalls involving millions of inclined sleepers linked to infant deaths, a new survey suggests that many child daycare facilities continue to use the dangerous and potentially life-threatening products.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) issued a new daycare infant sleepers report this week, finding that about 10% of daycare facilities surveyed still use recalled infant sleepers, which may expose babies to a suffocation risk as they become old enough to roll over independently.

Researchers from the non-profit organization contacted more than 600 child care facilities from mid-June to early July 2019, inquiring if they were using recalled sleepers and provided information about the recalls, warnings and dangers associated with the products.

Results of the survey found one in 10 of the 376 facilities to respond currently had one or more of the recalled infant beds in their possession, and were continuing to use the products on a daily basis. Even facilities in Wisconsin and Texas, which have bans in place preventing daycare facilities from used recalled products, the products continue to be used.

Inclining infant sleepers are similar to bassinets, but are designed to elevate the baby’s head and torso. Inclining the infant during sleep has been shown to help prevent acid-reflux or congestion. However, the design has been linked to dozens of infant deaths, and it is widely acknowledged that the design poses serious health risks once a baby is old enough to rollover on their own.

The sleepers are meant to be used for newborns and infants, and are sold in frame-type, semi-grid and compact styles for infants to be placed in on their backs to keep the baby’s face up. The products are equipped with restraints that allow parents to snugly fit the straps around the child to prevent them from turning over. However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has linked at least 50 deaths to inclined infant sleepers. 

Safety concerns with inclined sleepers were first 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. However, this warning was disputed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), stating parents will not know the exact moment a child gains the ability to roll over, which may be too late and result in another infant death.

Since the warning, several manufacturers issued recalls of inclined sleeper products in April 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.

Fischer-Price now faces a number of infant sleeper lawsuits, presenting claims for wrongful death, injury and class action complaints, each of which raise similar allegations that 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.

As concerns surrounding inclined infant sleepers continue to rise and more recalls are issued, the CPSC made a decision unfavorable to many, to allow the voluntary industry standards organization, ASTM International, the opportunity to investigate the product’s standard and potential hazards until October 2019 before deciding whether the sleepers should be eliminated from the market.

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