The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has proposed new rules that will ban cribs with drop-sides (side-rails that can be lowered and raised). As with all new rules, it has been met with some controversy. The drop side has been a beloved crib feature for years and, because it enables getting baby in and out of the crib gently while still providing a high “wall” when not supervised, has been thought to be a safety benefit.
Now, as investigations pile up in the process of CPSC crib safety standards review, we are learning of numerous infant deaths due to drop-sides malfunctioning. New crib laws, therefore, propose to ban the drop-side all together. I do wonder, though, is it that drop-sides are dangerous, or is it that the drop-side cribs are being poorly manufactured? Are we attacking the problem at the root, or simply addressing the manifestation?
The CPSC reports the statistics below as part of their Early Warning System (EWS) established in late 2007 to monitor incident reports related to cribs.
In the 28 month period ending April 11, 2010, the following incidents were reported and analyzed:
3,520 crib related incidents (regular full-sized, or assumed to be full-sized, cribs)
- 1,698 no injury
- 1,675 non-fatal injuries
- 147 fatalities
- 62 suffocation deaths due to the presence of soft bedding
- 17 asphyxiation deaths related to prone positioning
- 12 strangulation deaths due to window treatment cords or electrical cords in or near the crib
- 16 miscellaneous hazards such as plastic bags, toys or other products in the crib
- 5 unexplained deaths
- 35 deaths due to structural defects of crib
- 34 due to suffocation and entrapment
- 1 due to choking on a loose screw
So what do I think? Well, my first son was about 10 pounds at birth and, due to a muscle condition, could not pull himself up until he was almost two years old. Without the drop-side, I may have broken my back trying to get him in and out of his crib. Even so, if he were an infant today, with the knowledge I have now, I would absolutely skip the drop-side. Whether it is the fault of the concept, the design, the manufacturer or my own ability to assemble things properly, in my mind, there is no reason to take a chance, no matter how small it may be.
I would prefer we fix the real problem, which may mean that the drop sides themselves are not inherently bad, but if we can’t, ending the manifestation – the deaths – is my first concern. To save our backs the currently proposed safety standards will allow hinged sides that enable the side-rail to be folded. Of course, that raises a whole new set of concerns.You can read more about the new crib safety standards on the latest WeMakeItSafer post.