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Linda Chalat
Linda Chalat
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Injuries from Cribs Prompts Ban

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The government outlawed drop-side cribs on yesterday after the deaths of more than 30 infants and toddlers in the past decade and millions of recalls. It was a unanimous vote by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban the manufacture, sale and resale of the cribs, which have a side rail that moves up and down, allowing parents to more easily lift their child from the crib.

The new standard mandates tougher safety testing for cribs, tests that more closely mimic the behavior of a child in a crib. As children get older, they can apply more force to the crib — shaking on it, running around in it, jumping up and down. The required new tests aim to make sure that the cribs do not malfunction during normal use. The new standard also requires cribs to have fixed sides. The move by CPSC would also prohibit hotels and childcare centers from using drop-sides, though those facilities would have a year to purchase new cribs.

The new standards take effect in June Better labeling on crib pieces will also be required , reducing the assembly problems that some parents have encountered.

Disappointingly, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that injuries caused by cribs, strollers, high chairs and other nursery products spiked 21 percent in 2009 from the previous year. Regulators estimated there were 77,300 emergency-room visits related to products aimed at children younger than 5 years old, compared with 63,700 in 2008, a report last week details. Even more frustrating is that the agency doesn’t have an explanation for the increase.

The products covered in the report have been subject to recalls in the past year. Retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Kmart and Toys R Us have recalled cribs. Newell Rubbermaid Inc.’s Graco subsidiary recalled high chairs in March and an infant carrier-stroller combination last month.

The number of injuries rose 2 percent in 2008 and fell 5.9 percent in 2007. CPSC epidemiologists said the reasons for the 2009 increase may be technical and may not represent a statistically significant jump. Infant carriers, cribs and strollers accounted for more than half of the injuries, according to the report, which uses a sample of emergency-room data to estimate a national trend.

Infant carriers, including those that can be used as car seats, were involved in 15,800 injuries last year, compared with 11,700 in 2008 — a 35 percent increase. There were 14,600 children sent to the emergency room with crib injuries last year, a 27 percent increase from 11,500 in 2008, the CPSC reports.