#childsafety | Fisher-Price ignored warnings about kid-killing sleeper


Fisher-Price kept its popular Rock ‘n Play inclined baby sleeper on the market for a decade, even as the company learned of safety concerns and dozens of infant deaths tied to the product, according to a congressional report.

Fisher-Price, which is a division of El Segundo, California-based Mattel, made at least $200 million in sales from the product during the 10 years it was on the market, according to the report by the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

More than 50 infants died using the product before it was recalled in April 2019, the report says.

“Today’s staff report is damning. The committee’s investigation shows how corporate greed and weak federal oversight led to the deaths of dozens of babies in an unsafe product,” committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney said.

“It is shameful that Fisher-Price endangered lives simply to help its bottom line. The findings of the Committee’s investigation make clear that we must strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Act to put American consumers over corporate profits. I am committed to doing just that.”

The Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper.
More than 50 infants died using the Rock ‘n Play before it was recalled in April 2019.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

A representative for Fisher-Price said the sleeper “met or exceeded all applicable regulatory standards.”

The product “was designed and developed following extensive research, medical advice, safety analysis, and more than a year of testing and review,” the representative said.

At a congressional hearing earlier this week, executives said the company always prioritizes safety before it releases a product.

“On behalf of myself and everyone at Mattel, I want to convey my deep and sincere condolences to parents and anyone affected by the heartbreaking tragedies we will discuss today,” Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz told lawmakers. “I am a father of four children, and I can only imagine that there cannot be a more terrible loss than that of a child.”

Before the product was recalled in 2019, Consumer Reports President Marta Tellado called the company out, saying that the recall was “long overdue.”

“Fisher-Price and the CPSC knew about deaths linked to this product for years and could have taken steps to avoid this unnecessary tragedy,” she said at the time.

Fisher-Price started selling the Rock ‘n Play sleeper in October 2009. The product let infants sleep on their backs with their feet at a downward angle.

But the report alleges the company quickly became aware of concerns about the product raised by customers, US doctors and even regulators in Canada and Australia.

The Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper.
Fisher-Price reportedly consulted with just one doctor before it began selling the Rock ‘n Play sleeper in 2009.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Instead of conducting adequate medical research on the product, Fisher-Price pulled from knowledge about other inclined products, like car seats, the report says. The company consulted with just one doctor before it began selling the sleeper, according to the committee’s report.

The Texas Medical Board later accused that doctor of practicing without a license and using unsafe practices, the report said.

The congressional committee’s findings come days after Fisher-Price recalled its 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soothers as well as its 2-in-1 Soothe ‘n Play Gliders following the deaths of four infants.

“Inclined products, such as gliders, soothers, rockers and swings are not safe for infant sleep, due to the risk of suffocation,” Consumer Product Safety Commission acting chairman Robert Adler said in a statement.



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