A House of Representatives committee is asking manufacturers Graco and Chicco to consider recalling their popular baby products, citing dozens of infant deaths that have been tied to inclined sleepers.
In letters shared exclusively with USA TODAY Friday, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, requests information on “the design and safety” of Chicco’s Lullaby Playards and Graco’s Care Station Playard products, which include an inclined sleep component.
Playards were formerly called playpens, and sometimes referred to as portable cribs. Some include removable bassinets or sleepers.
“The recall of other inclined sleeper products and the continued sale of inclined nappers raises serious concerns about the internal and regulatory processes for introducing new products for infants and children into the market and the marketing tactics used to sell those products,” Maloney wrote in the letter to Graco, calling on both companies to provide documentation about the products’ safety by March 20.
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Infant sleeper recall 2020:Graco, Summer Infant, Delta Children and Evenflo recall 165,000 inclined infant sleepers
The inclined infant sleeper category has been tied to at least 73 reported infant deaths as of late January, according to numbers released then by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Millions of baby sleepers have been recalled since last April including 4.7 million Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleepers. In late January, four companies – Graco, Summer Infant, Evenflo and Delta Children – recalled more than 165,000 inclined infant sleepers because they pose a suffocation risk for babies.
Chicco and Graco could not immediately be reached for comment.
Maloney’s letter to Chicco notes there is no discussion in the marketing materials or on the website about whether the Newborn Lounger, which was previously called Newborn Napper, in its product is appropriate for newborn sleep despite its incline.
“It is not until Page 29 of the Lullaby Baby Product Manual that a warning appears to “NEVER leave child unattended. You are responsible to provide adult supervision when using your napper,” Maloney wrote quoting the manual.
Will more infant sleepers be recalled?
Adam Garber, who is a consumer watchdog for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, told USA TODAY that a “name change or buried warning dozens of pages into a manual does nothing to keep an infant safe.”
“Evidence continues to pile up that inclined sleepers are a danger to children, which is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has proposed banning them completely,” Garber said. “They should stop selling any product that fails to meet these standards and issue a recall for all passed inclined sleepers immediately. A child’s life is too precious to wait.”
Other consumer watchdogs applauded the committee’s work.
“Inclined sleepers pose a known suffocation hazard to infants,” Nancy Cowles, executive director of the organization Kids In Danger (KID), said in a statement. “Those that are still on the market must be recalled.”
Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel with Consumer Federation of America, said the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe sleep guidelines “are unequivocal about the need for babies to sleep on flat surfaces,” adding the items should not be available for sale.
“The fact that these types of products are still on the market continues to pose risks to babies and undermines the critical message from pediatricians that babies should sleep on flat surfaces,” Weintraub told USA TODAY.
William Wallace, Consumer Reports manager of home and safety policy, called for Graco and Chicco to recall the inclined sleepers and offer full refunds, “to keep babies safe and to treat parents right.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko