Nurseries are meant to be safe havens for infants, designed to provide comfort, security, and care. However, beneath the surface of adorable designs and seemingly harmless products lies a troubling reality: nursery items, often considered essentials, can pose significant dangers to infants, contributing to a concerning number of fatalities. From cribs to car seats, seemingly innocuous items can turn hazardous if not used or designed correctly, leading to tragic outcomes.
A 2023 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is renewing concern over nursery products after identifying at least 160 infant deaths annually due to these products. At Kherkher Garcia, we want parents and consumers to be aware of the potential hazards related to dangerous, defective, and recalled products. Below, our children’s product liability lawyers discuss the CPSC report, the hazards of nursery products, and how parents can get help.
The Hidden Dangers of Nursery Products
Infant mortality rates due to nursery product-related incidents remain a distressing concern. According to the CPSC report, nursery products are associated with approximately 60,000 emergency department-treated injuries annually in the United States alone. The most alarming aspect is that many of these injuries result in fatalities, highlighting the urgent need for increased awareness and safety measures.
The CPSC report shows that for years 2018 through 2020, there were around 160 infant deaths annually in the U.S. due to nursery related products. One hundred of those deaths were related to bedding, pillows, and other products. At least 15 deaths were directly related to inclined swings and rockers, which are not designed for infant sleeping.
What Nursery Products Pose the Greatest Risk?
Products that are designed and sold for children should be safe and appropriate for use. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Many products are defective in design, manufacturing, or distribution. Additionally, many products are not adequately labeled with instructions and warnings. Let’s take a look at the nursery products that pose the greatest risk of infant death.
One of the most critical pieces of nursery furniture, the crib, serves as the centerpiece of a baby’s room. However, faulty construction or improper assembly can turn this sanctuary into a potential danger zone. Unsafe crib designs, particularly those with gaps or spaces where a baby’s head could get stuck, pose a risk of suffocation or strangulation. While regulations such as the mandatory use of fixed side rails have improved crib safety, parents must remain vigilant, regularly inspecting cribs for potential hazards.
Seemingly harmless items like baby mattresses and bedding can also contribute to infant deaths. Soft bedding materials that pose a danger include:
- Crib bumpers
- Stuffed animals
- Loose-fitting pajamas
According to the CPSC, these items increase the risk of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Despite campaigns advocating for the use of a firm mattress and removing any soft bedding from cribs, many parents remain unaware of these risks or underestimate their severity.
Another prevalent nursery product often taken for granted in terms of safety is the baby walker. While designed to aid in a child’s mobility, walkers can be hazardous, leading to falls down stairs or collisions with dangerous objects. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has repeatedly called for a ban on baby walkers due to their association with serious injuries, yet they remain a popular choice for many parents.
Car seats, vital for infant safety during travel, also present risks if not used correctly. Improper installation or misuse of car seats can lead to tragic consequences in the event of an accident. From incorrect harnessing to using a car seat that doesn’t meet safety standards, the potential for injury or fatality is distressingly high.
Infant carriers and slings, intended to keep infants close to caregivers, can pose suffocation risks if used incorrectly. Incorrect positioning, fabric that covers the baby’s face, or the baby being curled into a C-shape within the carrier can lead to breathing difficulties, potentially resulting in tragedy.
Inclined Seats or Swings
Inclined seats and swings, while seemingly offering a solution to issues like reflux or colic in infants, pose significant dangers that outweigh their perceived benefits. These products often have a design that inclines the sleeping surface, positioning the baby at an angle. However, numerous studies and incidents have highlighted the grave risks associated with inclined sleepers. The angle and structure of these products can compromise an infant’s airway, leading to potential suffocation or positional asphyxiation.
As we discussed in our post about the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play recall, the inclined position increases the risk of babies rolling into awkward positions where they can’t lift their heads to breathe properly, potentially resulting in tragic consequences such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or accidental suffocation. Due to these alarming risks, several regulatory bodies have issued warnings against the use of inclined sleepers and some countries have even banned their sale, emphasizing the critical need for safer sleep practices for infants.
How to Reduce the Risk of Infant Deaths
Addressing the issue of nursery product-related infant deaths requires a multifaceted approach. Manufacturers must prioritize safety in product design and ensure strict adherence to safety standards and regulations. Improved labeling and clearer instructions could also significantly reduce risks associated with product misuse.
Parents and caregivers play a pivotal role in safeguarding infants from nursery product-related hazards. Education campaigns, readily accessible information, and classes on nursery product safety could equip caregivers with the necessary knowledge to recognize potential dangers and use products correctly. Parents and caregivers can search for recalled products on the CPSC website.
Government agencies, such as the CPSC, must continue to enforce safety standards and recall unsafe products promptly. Additionally, collaboration between healthcare providers, pediatricians, and child safety organizations is crucial in disseminating information about safe nursery practices.
How Can Parents Get Help After a Product-Related Injury or Death?
After any sort of product-related child injury, it is important for parents to know how to get help. This is even more important for parents who have lost a child due to a dangerous or defective product. Parents can seek help after a product-related injury by taking several important steps:
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention: Ensure the child receives prompt medical care. Document the injury by taking photographs and keeping copies of medical records and bills.
- Preserve Evidence: Keep the product, packaging, and any related evidence that might be relevant to the injury. This evidence can be crucial in establishing liability.
- Report to Authorities: File a report about the incident with relevant authorities or agencies. Contact the CPSC to report the issue.
- Contact the Manufacturer or Retailer: Reach out to the manufacturer or retailer where the product was purchased. Notify them of the incident, and inquire about their procedures for handling such cases.
- Document Everything: Maintain detailed records of all communications, including emails, letters, and phone calls, with medical professionals, the manufacturer, retailer, and any authorities involved.
- Stay Informed: Stay updated on any recalls, safety alerts, or news related to the product or similar products. This knowledge can prevent further accidents and inform your decisions moving forward.
- Get Legal Guidance: Consider consulting with a lawyer specializing in children’s product liability cases. They can provide guidance on your legal options and represent your interests in negotiations or legal proceedings.
- Understand Consumer Rights: Educate yourself about consumer rights and product liability laws in your area. Knowing your rights can be empowering when dealing with companies or legal entities.
Every situation is unique, but these basic steps can help parents begin to protect and preserve their legal rights. Seeking legal guidance is crucial for effectively addressing a product-related child injury. A skilled children’s product liability lawyer will advise parents on the best course of action to pursue justice for their child.
Contact a Children’s Product Liability Lawyer
If your child has suffered an injury due to a defective product, or your family is facing a tragic infant death, you should know that you are not alone. At Kherkher Garcia, our compassionate children’s product liability lawyers understand the trauma and distress that a child injury or death causes. We want to work with you to ensure justice for your child.
If you have questions about product-related child injuries or infant deaths, please do not hesitate to contact our team to learn more. We are here for you, and can provide information and answer your questions via a free consultation. Call us at 713-333-1030, or complete our contact form to get started.
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