At least 50 deaths have been linked to problems with inclined infant sleepers, which create an unsafe sleep position that may cause babies to suffocate, yet some manufacturers continue to sell products with this dangerous design.
While some products have been recalled, and federal officials are considering a ban on inclined infant sleepers, a warning issued by Consumer Reports urges parents and caregivers to stop using any and all rocking inclined sleepers.
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 proven to be potentially deadly after babies are 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 the products.
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.
Shortly after the initial CPSC warning was released, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called on the commission to issue an immediate recall for the Rock’n Play Sleepers, indicating 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.
By the end of April, CSPC officials recalled 4.7 million Rock’n Play Sleepers and Kids II recalled all 694,000 of its inclined rocking sleepers. While there were 32 infant deaths reported at that time, at least 18 additional deaths have surfaced over the past few months, bringing the total number of deaths to approximately 50.
Despite growing fatality reports and CPSC efforts to recall two of the most popular brand inclined sleepers, several manufacturers continue to sell similar products with the same risks. Consumer Reports indicates Baby Delight, Evenflo, and Hiccapop still sell inclined sleepers, yet the CPSC has not recalled or issued warning for those specific products.
Rather than issuing a recall for all inclined sleepers across the market, the CPSC is allowing 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.
Many have become critical of the CPSC’s decision, including several Congressmen Tony Cárdenas, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who have recently introduced legislation that would prohibit the manufacture, import and sale of infant inclined sleeper products.
Cardenas stated at a June 13, 2019 House hearing that he introduced the bill because “companies decided making money was more important than the lives of innocent babies” and “because the regulatory agency charged with protecting Americans decided to be puppets for industry and stood by as more precious lives were lost”, according to Consumer Reports.
Since the recalls, Fischer-Price has been riddled with a number of inclined sleeper individual wrongful death lawsuits and also 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.