New Legislation Introduced to Prevent Infant Deaths

In the first six months of 2019 the U.S.  Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) worked with several manufacturers to recall inclined infant sleepers.  The efforts of the CPSC follow reports of more than two dozen infant deaths.  Numerous injuries and incidents have also been reported.

In addition to public outcry from parents and safety advocates, federal legislators are now also weighing in.  Some federal legislators believe the recalls are not enough to prevent infant deaths They have moved to introduce legislation that will ban companies from selling inclined sleepers.

Inclined Sleepers and Infant Deaths – Background

In April 2019, Fisher-Price recalled almost 4.7 million Rock ‘N Play sleepers.  More than 30 infant deaths are associated with the Fisher-Price sleeper over the course of the 10 years it has been on the market.

Some of the infant deaths were due to smothering after the infant rolled over in the sleeper.  Other deaths can be attributed to the inclined design of the sleeper.  An inclined design is not a safe sleeping surface for young infants as the trachea can compress reducing oxygen.  The result can be brain damage or death.

Marketing an inclined sleeper as safe for infants is irresponsible.

After a full investigation into sleepers with a similar design as the Fisher-Price model, the CPSC officially attributed the deaths that occurred in these devices to the inclined design.  As a result, a similar rocking inclined sleeper manufactured by Kids II also came off the market earlier this year.

The Safe Sleep for Babies Act

In response to the massive recalls and outrage caused by investigations into the sleepers, lawmakers are speaking out.  California Congressman Tony Cárdenas sponsored the Safe Sleep For Babies Act in June, 2019.   The stated purpose of the act is to prohibit the sale of sleepers “with an inclined surface of greater than 10 degrees that is intended, marketed, or designed to provide sleeping accommodations for infants up to one year old.”

Cárdenas believes inclined sleepers remain on the market after having caused so many infant deaths because of profit-driven motives.  Seemingly suggesting that the free market has failed to correct itself, lawmakers are taking the opportunity to step in and ban inclined sleepers as a matter of public policy.

Despite recommendations from the CPSC, along with the two high-profile recalls of inclined sleepers, many such products remain on the market.

Why Legislation to Prevent Infant Deaths?

The seeming reluctance of baby product manufacturers to place infant safety over profit is precisely the reason why lawmakers are moving forward with legislation.   Prior to the Fisher-Price recall, the company partnered with the CPSC to issue a safety warning about the deadly product.

This warning was mostly ignored by consumers.  Safety warnings do not convey the same sense of urgency as a recall.  Between safety warnings that failed to make headlines and manufacturers reluctant to incur the expense of a recall, Cárdenas’ action is attempting to remove these inclined sleepers from the marketplace permanently.

Support from the American Academy of Pediatrics

The proposed Safe Sleep for Babies Act enjoys support from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).   As a matter of fact, the AAP has come out strongly against inclined sleepers since the earliest reports of infant deaths.   When Fisher-Price had only issued its tepid safety warning, the AAP called for the immediate recall of the Rock ‘n Play sleeper, calling it “deadly” in a statement.

The AAP astutely pointed out that the American consumer trusts the CSPC and baby product manufacturers to regulate and offer for sale only products that are safe for children.   The implicit understanding is, if an infant product is available for sale, then it must be safe for infants.  That is not the case for these inclined sleepers.  These items are allowed to be sold, but they are demonstrably dangerous to children.

Safe Sleep Environments

The safest sleep environment for babies is a firm, flat, and bare surface.   Inclined sleep surfaces are dangerous because a baby’s trachea can collapse while sleeping at an incline.  Also, the inclined position makes it easier for non-ambulatory babies to roll and subsequently smother on the sleep surface.

A firm, flat, and bare surface is the official recommendation of the AAP for a safe sleep environment.  The Safe Sleep for Babies Act cannot legislate away all danger to a sleeping infant, but it seeks to ban a dangerous style of product that parents trust by sheer virtue of being able to buy it in a store.

Knowing SIDS Safety Basics Helps Prevent Infant Deaths

The sad truth is, some babies die in their sleep and doctors don’t know why.   Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is an opaque condition in which a baby dies during sleep for no apparent reason.   Though no one knows exactly what causes SIDS  doctors have observed that certain safe sleep practices drastically reduce the risk of a SIDS death:

  • Babies should always sleep on their back.
  • Avoid crib bumpers and fluffy blankets on the sleep surface.
  • Do not expose a baby to cigarette smoke, even second-hand smoke.
  • Sleep with your baby close by.  The AAP does not recommend sharing a bed with your baby, but they do recommend that young infants sleep within arm’s reach of their parents for the safest sleep experience.
  • Be careful not to over dress a baby, which can cause overheating.

Has Your Child Been Harmed by a Dangerous Product?

There are few things more unimaginably horrible than an infant’s death.  Federal lawmakers believe that manufacturers have betrayed the trust of the American people.  So much so, lawmakers have taken it upon themselves to step in and attempt to regulate products that are available to parents.

All politics aside, any regulation that helps to keep babies safe and saves lives is an important measure.

If your child has been harmed by a dangerous or defective product, or you have similarly suffered the loss of a child, the attorneys at Birth Injury Guide can help.   As a parent, you have rights.   You have the right to know if a dangerous or defective product is responsible for your child’s injuries.  You also have the right to hold the manufacturer responsible for your unconscionable loss.

To find out more about your legal rights, contact Birth Injury Guide at 1-877-415-6603.  Our defective products attorney can offer support and guidance, and will help you determine if you have an actionable claim.  Call us or contact us online to request a free consultation.

Meagan Cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to the team at Birth Injury Guide to provide up-to-date and relevant content that clients can count on.