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Fisher-Price reminds customers of sleeper recall after more reported infant deaths

The Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper is pictured in a home in Alexandria, Virginia, in 2019.
The Washington Post via Getty Images
The Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper is pictured in a home in Alexandria, Virginia, in 2019.

Fisher-Price is reminding consumers not to use the company's once-popular Rock 'n Play sleepers, which were recalled in 2019 but have continued to lead to infant deaths.

On Monday, in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the child product giant re-announced the recall of 4.7 million of its Rock 'n Play sleepers.

The Atlanta-based company Kids2 also re-announced the 2019 recall of 694,000 of its Rocking Sleepers.

According to the CPSC, at least 12 children were reported to have died in the recalled products after the recalls were announced — eight in the Rock 'n Play sleeper and four in the Kids2 Rocking Sleeper.

"We are issuing this announcement because, despite their removal from the marketplace and a prohibition on their sale, babies continue to die in these products," CPSC chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric said in a statement.

Fisher-Price said it re-announced the recall to reach as many customers as possible.

Infants who died in the inclined sleepers rolled from their backs to their sides or their stomachs, which can cause accidental suffocation.

Both companies are offering refunds to customers who have one of the recalled products.

Even after a recall, many dangerous products remain in circulation

Recalled products don't immediately disappear from use. Companies and federal regulators have to get their message out to consumers, and then those consumers have to take action.

Nancy Cowles, executive director of the nonprofit group Kids in Danger, which advocates for safe child products, told NPR that staying on top of the latest recall news can be difficult for new parents.

"If you're not looking for it, if you're not paying attention, if you are busy with young children — you're probably not sitting down watching the nightly news — you can easily miss it and then continue to use the product without realizing that you're using an unsafe product," she said.

There is also a massive resale market for baby items, which may only get a few months of use by the original owner. That can keep recalled products in circulation longer.

Given the dangers posed by inclined sleepers, Cowles said Fisher-Price and Kids2 should "use the same resources they use to sell a product to recall it."

"When these companies are marketing products, they would never say, 'Well, we sent a press release out so everyone who needs to know about the product knows. We don't need to do any more marketing to sell the product,' " she said. "But that's what they do, oftentimes, for a recall."

A spokesperson from Mattel, which owns Fisher-Price, told NPR that the company has "worked diligently to remove all recalled product from the market."

Safety warnings about inclined sleepers have been growing for years

A total of 15 infants have reportedly died using Kids2's Rocking Sleepers, according to the CPSC.

For Fisher-Price's Rock 'n Play sleepers, the total number of reported fatalities is "approximately 100," the commission said. (Fisher-Price and Kids2 say they can't definitively say each case involved their recalled sleepers.)

In 2021, the the House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a report finding that Fisher-Price had downplayed safety concerns about the Rock 'n Play Sleeper before putting it on the market and that the company knew of 14 infant deaths tied to the sleeper a year before recalling it.

Inclined sleepers can cause young children to accidentally suffocate, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that caregivers put babies to sleep on a firm, flat surface.

President Biden signed a law in May that bans certain inclined sleep products for infants, and the CPSC requires all new products sold for infant sleep to meet certain safety standards.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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