Drop-Side Cribs Outlawed in U.S.

The baby cribs that allow the sides to be lowered can no longer be manufactured, sold or re-sold in the United States. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which governs the release of consumer products, banned the practice today by a unanimous vote. The ban will take effect in June 2011.

Many child safety experts have expected this ruling for some time after hundreds of thousands of drop-side cribs have been recalled over the past year. In January, 635,000 were recalled. In April, another 200,000 cribs were recalled with 2 million more recalled in July. The last recall was the largest in history. Drop-side cribs have been responsible for 32 infant and toddler deaths since 2000 and are suspected in another 14 infant fatalities.

The hazard occurs when the drop-side of the crib becomes loose and the side then detaches from the crib. This can create a “V”-like gap between the mattress and the rail where a baby can get caught and suffocate or strangle.

Ever since I prosecuted a crib death case fifteen years ago, I have strongly recommended that parents no longer use such cribs. At a minimum, secure the drop-side of the crib with either screws or an “L” bracket to make sure the side cannot move.  Please do not purchase drop-side cribs from second-hand stores or borrow drop-side cribs from friends.

My case involved a crib donated to a young Tulsa family.  The screws worked loose and the drop side partially detached and trapped their infant.  You must daily, or at least weekly, check all the screws holding the crib together.  Older children will shake the crib enough to loosen screws that are critical to maintaining a safe sleeping area.  Running around on the crib and jumping up and down on the crib can also loosen screws.  You must constantly check your crib to make sure that it is safe.

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