October 29, 2019

After Shocking Study Reveals More Infant Deaths Linked To Popular Infant Sleep Products, Gillibrand Calls For Retailers To Pull Unsafe Products From The Shelves And Inform Consumers Who Previously Purchased These Items

Recent Study Confirms that No Inclined Infant Sleeper is Safe for Babies; Consumer Product Safety Commission Experts Have Called for New Rules to Essentially Ban These Products, But Months of Expected Delays Mean That Many New York Families Could Still Be Unknowingly Buying Common But Dangerous Products That Have Been Linked to Infant Deaths

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced her call on retailers to pull dangerous inclined infant sleeper products from the shelves immediately and inform consumers who previously purchased these items. Gillibrand’s call comes as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently released a study showing that no infant sleep product with more than a 10 degree incline is safe for babies. The Commission is working toward effectively banning these products and its staff has proposed new safety rules. However, the Commission must still undergo a vote as well as a lengthy public comment period before a ban can be put in place, meaning that many New York parents and caretakers could still unknowingly be putting their babies at risk by using popular products that have been linked to infant deaths.  

“It’s completely unacceptable that New Yorkers are still unknowingly using and buying dangerous inclined infant sleep products even though there is strong data showing these items are associated with infant deaths,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Until these products are banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, retailers have a responsibility to pull these items from the shelves immediately and notify families who have purchased these products. That’s why I’m calling on stores to stop selling these products today and do their part to keep babies safe.”

“Inclined sleepers are linked to 73 deaths and are not safe for infant sleep. They should be immediately recalled and parents should stop using them. Consumer Reports urges all retailers to put safety first and voluntarily stop selling inclined sleepers in the meantime. CR also urges Congress to pass legislation banning dangerous inclined sleepers entirely,” said William Wallace, Manager of Home and Safety Policy, Consumer Reports.

 "A child's safety should be as important to manufacturers as it is to parents. Awareness of the risks of inclined sleepers is an important first step, and where infant fatalities are reported, action must follow--including pulling dangerous products off shelves and notifying caretakers. We applaud Senator Gillibrand for highlighting this important issue, and taking steps to empower families, particularly during those vulnerable first few months of a child's life," said Megan Ahearn, Program Director, New York Public Interest Research Group.   

 “Senator Gillibrand is setting a strong precedent for both the retail and manufacturing industry to act on dangerous products with respect to the inclined sleepers on an expedited basis, as well as other products used by our youngest consumers. We support this call to vigilant action for retailers in brick-and-mortar stores as well as those online,” said Anthony Green, Chief Officer for Advocacy and Network, Safe Kids Worldwide.

 The groundbreaking study, which was led by Erin Mannen, Ph.D., a biomechanics researcher and assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, was revealed earlier this month. The CPSC’s proposed safety rules may be found here. Many organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and the Consumer Federation of America, support the CPSC for taking action and have urged the Commission to quickly adopt new safety rules to effectively ban the sale of inclined sleepers. In addition to her call for retailers to pull dangerous inclined infant sleeper products from the shelves immediately, Senator Gillibrand is a cosponsor of the Safe Sleep Act of 2019, which would ban inclined infant sleepers at angles beyond 10 degrees.

The full text of Gillibrand’s letters to retailers may be found here, here, and below.

Matthew Shay
President & CEO
National Retail Federation
1101 New York Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Mr. Shay,

I am writing to call on the National Retail Federation (NRF) and its members to institute a voluntary ban and remove all ‘inclined infant sleepers’ and similar products from store shelves until the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finalizes its proposal regarding mandatory safety rules for inclined infant sleepers.[1] Last week, the CPSC released a report acknowledging at least 73 infant deaths associated with inclined infant sleep products—up from the 54 that Consumer Reports reported earlier this month,[2] making it far too clear that these products should be immediately removed from store shelves to prevent future infant deaths.

‘Inclined infant sleeper’ or ‘infant sleeper’ products are bassinet-like products with an inclined back to elevate the baby’s head and torso. Infant sleepers allow babies to sleep at an angle between 10- and 30-degrees, violating the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe-sleep guidelines that say babies should sleep on hard, flat surfaces.[3] According to research commissioned by the CPSC,[4] babies are susceptible to suffocation in an inclined sleeper because the products appear to make it easier for babies to roll into an unsafe facedown position and puts them in an exhausting fight to maintain a safe posture. A Washington Post investigation found that some companies developed infant sleepers based on faulty beliefs about infant sleep and with no clinical research into safety, and as a result millions of infant sleepers have already been voluntarily recalled by manufacturers.[5] Considering the grave danger these products pose to the safety of babies and families, I am urging the NRF to do their part to remove these products to prevent unnecessary death and injury to infants.

The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. The CPSC has investigated deaths related to infant sleepers and recently called for a halt in sales of all inclined infant sleepers, but their proposal for new rules has not been approved and finalized.[6] Until the CPSC finalizes mandatory safety rules for infant sleepers, these products should not be available to consumers.

I urge the NRF to fully understand the risk of infant sleepers and reject arguments from some industry members that the product could be made safe with minor changes to voluntary safety codes. A team of researchers from the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) concluded that none of the inclined sleep products they examined as part of the study were safe for infant sleep[7]. They recommended that this category of products be removed from the market or that the industry rules outlining the standards for these product be significantly revised. Both regulators and industry could benefit from biomechanical studies and we need more research before these products get to market.

There is a clear and present danger posed by these products for children and families. I am counting on the NRF to do the right thing and remove infant sleepers, the same products that have already been voluntarily recalled by some manufacturers for killing children, from the market so that not one more family has to suffer.

I also urge the NRF to notify and warn consumers who have purchased infant sleepers about the immediate, grave dangers posed by these products.

Thank you,

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator

 

Sandy Kennedy
President
Retail Industry Leaders Association
99 M Street S.E., Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20003

Dear Ms. Kennedy,

I am writing to call on the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and its members to institute a voluntary ban and remove all ‘inclined infant sleepers’ and similar products from store shelves until the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finalizes its proposal regarding mandatory safety rules for inclined infant sleepers.[8] Last week, the CPSC released a report acknowledging at least 73 infant deaths associated with inclined infant sleep products—up from the 54 that Consumer Reports reported earlier this month,[9] making it far too clear that these products should be immediately removed from store shelves to prevent future infant deaths.

‘Inclined infant sleeper’ or ‘infant sleeper’ products are bassinet-like products with an inclined back to elevate the baby’s head and torso. Infant sleepers allow babies to sleep at an angle between 10- and 30-degrees, violating the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe-sleep guidelines that say babies should sleep on hard, flat surfaces.[10] According to research commissioned by the CPSC,[11] babies are susceptible to suffocation in an inclined sleeper because the products appear to make it easier for babies to roll into an unsafe facedown position and puts them in an exhausting fight to maintain a safe posture. A Washington Post investigation found that some companies developed infant sleepers based on faulty beliefs about infant sleep and with no clinical research into safety, and as a result millions of infant sleepers have already been voluntarily recalled by manufacturers.[12] Considering the grave danger these products pose to the safety of babies and families, I am urging the NRF to do their part to remove these products to prevent unnecessary death and injury to infants.

The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. The CPSC has investigated deaths related to infant sleepers and recently called for a halt in sales of all inclined infant sleepers, but their proposal for new rules has not been approved and finalized.[13] Until the CPSC finalizes mandatory safety rules for infant sleepers, these products should not be available to consumers.

I urge RILA to fully understand the risk of infant sleepers and reject arguments from some industry members that the product could be made safe with minor changes to voluntary safety codes. A team of researchers from the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) concluded that none of the inclined sleep products they examined as part of the study were safe for infant sleep[14]. They recommended that this category of products be removed from the market or that the industry rules outlining the standards for these product be significantly revised. Both regulators and industry could benefit from biomechanical studies and we need more research before these products get to market.

There is a clear and present danger posed by these products for children and families. I am counting on RILA to do the right thing and remove infant sleepers, the same products that have already been voluntarily recalled by some manufacturers for killing children, from the market so that not one more family has to suffer.

I also urge RILA to notify and warn consumers who have purchased infant sleepers about the immediate, grave dangers posed by these products.

Thank you,

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator