Problems with Drop Side Cribs Linked to 32 Deaths for Children: CPSC

Federal regulators are urging parents and caregivers to avoid the dangers of drop-side cribs, which have claimed the lives of at least 32 infants in the last decade. The warning comes as regulators work toward banning all drop-side cribs in the U.S. before the end of the year. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued the drop-side crib warning on May 7, saying that in addition to the confirmed 32 infant deaths, there are another 14 infant fatalities have involved entrapments that may have been caused by the construction of drop-side cribs. However, in those cases, investigators were unable to determine conclusively whether the deaths were caused by drop-side crib designs.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum will issue new mandatory federal standards for cribs sometime this year, according to the warning. The new safety standards will result in a ban of all drop-side cribs from the U.S. market. A number of childrens’ furniture manufacturers have already agreed to cease manufacture of drop-side cribs by June 1 of this year.

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Drop side cribs are designed to allow easy access to the baby by having one side that can be unlocked and lowered. They have been particularly popular with shorter parents or those with back problems who have difficulty reaching over the rails of a standard crib.

However, defects in designs of several models of these cribs have been blamed for a number of child deaths when the parts of the crib came loose, creating a gap that can trap or suffocate the infant. Problems with drop side cribs have involved malfunctioning retractable pegs, metal locking pins that came loose, broken slats and other issues.

According to the CPSC, there have been 11 drop-side crib recalls in the last five years, affecting more than 7 million cribs. Drop-side crib problems have resulted in many major retailers refusing to sell the design, and a number of drop side crib lawsuits have been filed against both manufacturers and retailers who sold defective cribs.

One of the biggest concerns surrounding drop side cribs is that they are not sufficiently durable. Many parents reuse the cribs for multiple children or pass them down to other family members. When the cribs are disassembled and then reassembled the risk of defects causing dangerous conditions increases greatly, and many of the cribs are inexpensive and built without durable parts.

The CPSC notes in its warning that it cannot say that all drop-side cribs are hazardous. However, the agency does say that it believes that “overall most drop-side cribs are more prone to mechanical failure than similar designed fixed-side cribs.”

The CPSC issued the following advice to parents and those who take care of infants:

  • Do not use cribs with missing, broken or loose parts.
  • Tighten a crib’s hardware from time to time to keep it sturdy.
  • If using a drop-side crib, check to make sure the moving parts operate smoothly.
  • Check the sides and corners of cribs for disengagements that could create gaps and entrap a child.
  • Do no repair a broken crib.
  • Make sure the crib you are using has not been the subject of a crib recall.


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