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Video: CPSC chairwoman discusses crib recall

  1. Closed captioning of: CPSC chairwoman discusses crib recall

    >> matt, thank you.

    >>> now to the biggest crib recall in u.s. history . more than 2.1 million drop-side cribs. nbc's tom costello is at the headquarters of the consumer products safety commission . tom, good morning.

    >> reporter: hi, meredith , good morning to you. these are drop-side cribs made by stork craft. the concern is that parents have been known to put this railing in upside down. regardless, the railing has been known to become detached. the plastic hardware along the sides can break, children can easily become trapped between the railing and the mattress or even worse . it is this drop-side crib made by stork craft out of canada that is now part of the biggest crib recall ever. 2.1 million cribs sold in both the u.s. and canada since 1993 . the removable railing or drop side has proven to be deadly.

    >> we know of 15 incidences and 4 deaths because children have become entrapped between the mattress and the drop-side.

    >> reporter: stork craft is one of the most widely purchased brand names in baby cribs with products sold at some of the biggest retailers in the country, including target, walmart, sears and kmart, sometimes under the stork craft name , but also under the fisher-price brand name until december 2004 . earlier this year, stork craft recalled 500,000 cribs after the mattress support brackets broke. and crib safety has become a major concern for the consumer product safety commission , with more than 5 million cribs made by various manufacturers recalled over the past two years.

    >> it was a mixture of suffocation and hanging that caused his death. he was compressed -- you know, he couldn't breathe and he basically choked and hung to death.

    >> reporter: nikki johns found her 9-month-old son liam stuck between the rails on a drop-side crib.

    >> called 911, and my brother and i did cpr on him until the ambulance got there. and they took him to the hospital where they pronounced him dead.

    >> reporter: liam's death led to a massive recall of simplicity and graco cribs after investigators determined a faulty design led many parents to install the drop side upside down. with some retailers now refusing to carry any drop-side cribs, the industry standards board voted just last week to no longer certify any drop-side cribs for sale in america. the advice from the head of the cpsc -- if you have an old one, get rid of it.

    >> people like to pass baby items down generation to generation, but it's not worth it. it's not worth it when your child could be seriously injured or even killed.

    >> reporter: if you have a drop-side crib made by this company, the advice is to use one of these plastic gadgets here that you can get from the company, the fix. you literally put it in place right down here, and that prevents the drop-side from moving down. however, there's widespread concern just about whether any drop-side crib is safe. meredith , we asked the company for a comment. they refused to comment. back to you.

    >> tom costello, thank you. inez tenenbaum is the chairman of the consumer products safety commission . chairman tenenbaum, good morning to you.

    >> good morning, meredith .

    >> i just want to make sure that i understand this correctly. do you recommend that anybody who has a drop-side crib, whether it's manufactured by stork craft or some other company, do you recommend that they replace that crib if they possibly can?

    >> i do recommend this, and short of replacing the crib, if you can get the kit from stork craft, which makes the side immoveable, that's another remedy for this situation.

    >> how reliable do you think that kit is?

    >> well, you can call -- you can call the company and get the kit, and it is made of plastic, so, if you can afford another crib that does not have a drop side, or even if you can't afford it, there are many charities in communities that will provide you with the new crib. that really is the safest way to handle this situation.

    >> as tom reported, the industry standards board voted last week to no longer certify any of these drop-side cribs for sale in the united states . does the commission have the power to ban the sale of these cribs? and if so, would you consider doing so, considering that millions of these cribs have been recalled over the past two years?

    >> well, the commission will write regulations in the next few months, and we will look at this issue about drop sides, but i do not think that drop sides, if it's not going to be certified by the industry, will be a part of cribs in the future. they have been shown to not be reliable. and over time , when the parent raises the side up and down, they're becoming detached from the cribs. so, i think in the future, you will not see cribs with drop sides.

    >> are you saying, then, that in the future you will ban them?

    >> well, we're in the process of rulemaking, and we will take a hard look at this, but i think in the future, these drop sides will be banned.

    >> also, my understanding is that there's no requirement that cribs in general be tested before they are manufactured. should there be requirements?

    >> there should be requirements in terms of specific design of cribs, and we have not had that in the united states because we've relied on voluntary standards. last year, congress passed a new law allowing the cpsc to write mandatory standards on the design and manufacture of cribs and we're in the process of doing that.

    >> very quickly, under president bush , the consumer products safety commission was criticized for being too cozy with business, essentially, toothless. how do you assure the american public, particularly parents out there that are worried, that that's no longer the case?

    >> well, what we're going to do is enforce every law that congress has passed. and last year, it passed a sweeping new law called the consumer product safety improvement act. we are enforcing that law firmly but fairly.

    >> all right. consumer products safety commission chairman inez tenenbaum , thank you very much for your time this morning.

    >> thank you, meredith .

    >>> let us get a check

updated 11/24/2009 9:10:05 AM ET 2009-11-24T14:10:05

The head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission conceded Tuesday the agency "hasn't been acting as quickly as it should" on crib safety problems.

Interviewed on morning news shows in the wake of the largest-ever recall of cribs, Chairman Inez Tenenbaum pledged that the CPSC would "firmly but fairly" enforce a law Congress passed last year giving regulators greater authority to police the industry.

More than 2.1 million drop-side cribs by Stork Craft Manufacturing of Canada are being recalled following reports of four infant suffocations. The CPSC said the recall involves 1.2 million cribs in the United States and almost 1 million in Canada, where Stork Craft is based. Sales of the cribs being recalled go back to 1993 and nearly 150,000 of the cribs carry the Fisher-Price logo.

The agency said the drop-side cribs have a side that moves up and down to allow parents to lift children from the cribs more easily. It also said there have been 110 incidents of drop-sides detaching from the cribs.

Asked Tuesday whether people should abandon such cribs, Tenenbaum said she recommends that. And she said consumers also could order plastic kits from the manufacturer to immobilize crib sides.

"The commission will write regulations in the next few months and we will look at this issue about drop-sides," Tenenbaum said. "But I don't think drop-sides will be a part of cribs in the future."

The Stork Craft cribs have had problems with their hardware, which can break, deform or become missing after years. CPSC said there can also be problems with assembly mistakes by the crib owner. These problems can cause the drop-side to detach, creating a dangerous space between the drop-side and the crib mattress, where a child can become trapped.

The cribs, which were manufactured and distributed between January 1993 and October 2009, were sold at major retailers including BJ's Wholesale Club, Sears and Wal-Mart stores and online through Target and Costco. They sold for between $100 and $400, and were made in Canada, China and Indonesia.

Calls to Stork Craft were not immediately returned.

This is the second big recall this year for the company. It recalled about 500,000 cribs in January because of problems with the metal brackets that support the mattress. Some of the same models in the earlier recall were also part of Monday's announcement, CPSC said.

Tenenbaum was asked why federal regulators hadn't stepped in sooner.

Image: Crib
cpsc.gov
"We have just not been acting as quickly as we should have at the Consumer Product Safety Commission on these types of incidents," she replied. "I have just been appointed a few months ago to chair the Consumer Product Safety Commission and this case came in front of me just a few weeks ago."

Consumer advocates have complained for years about drop-side cribs. More than 5 million of them have been recalled over the past two years alone — recalls that were associated with the deaths of a dozen young children.

ASTM International, an organization that sets voluntary industry safety standards for everything from toys to the steel used in commercial buildings, approved a new standard last week that requires four immovable, or fixed, sides for full-size cribs — essentially eliminating the manufacture of drop-side cribs.

CPSC is also considering new rules for making cribs safer and could adopt the ASTM voluntary standard as a mandatory one, outright banning the cribs.

Nancy Cowles, executive director of Chicago-based Kids In Danger, said the agency must include more rigorous testing for crib durability. "Parents should be able to trust that their child is safe in their crib," said Cowles.

Toys"R"Us started phasing out drop-side cribs earlier this year and will no longer carry them next month.

In the Stork Craft recall, the manufacture date, model number, crib name, country of origin, and the firm's name, address and contact information are located on the assembly instruction sheet attached to the mattress support board. The firm's insignia "storkcraft baby" or "storkling" is inscribed on the drop-side teething rail of some cribs.

Consumers can contact the company, 877-274-0277, to order the free repair kit, or log on to http://www.storkcraft.com.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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