Fisher-Price under fire, forced to re-announce recall of 4.7 million rockers after infants continued to die

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reporting that Fisher-Price has reannounced its recall of 4.7 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers after approximately 100 babies died while using them when they rolled onto their stomachs and suffocated.

(Video Credit: WRAL)

The initial recall for the sleepers was issued in 2019 but there are still many of them in homes out there because they were so popular among families with newborns. At the time of the first recall, at least 30 infant deaths were connected to the sleeper. Because of the 30-degree incline, a baby could roll from its back onto its stomach and be asphyxiated. All other sleepers on the market are flat.

The number of deaths connected to the rocker has jumped by 70 as parents are coming forward to show how their children died in the sleepers between 2009, when it first came out, and 2019. Eight more children have died since the initial recall was announced. Monday’s announcement is a result of the additional deaths resulting from the sleeper being used.

“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,” Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric asserted in a statement before warning parents to stop using the item immediately.

“We now know of approximately 100 infant deaths in the Rock n’ Play, including eight that happened after the recall was announced,” Hoehn-Saric added.

Fisher-Price has had two federal class-action lawsuits filed against it and its parent company Mattel for dangerous and defective design and negligence.

(Video Credit: Daily Mail)

One of the suits was filed by Cassandra Mulvey. It alleges the product’s marketing was “dangerously false and misleading, as the product is not safe for all-night or prolonged sleep for infants.”

It goes on to claim that the sleeper “significantly increased the risk that an infant’s head would slip into a dangerous position, tilt to constrict the windpipe and/or cause the infant’s face to become pressed against the padded fabric in the sleeper and block airflow, thereby increasing the risk of death by asphyxiation.”

The suit also contends that the angle at which children would be resting in the sleeper “increases the infant’s risk of developing flat head (plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (torticollis) syndromes, conditions that often require babies to wear expensive head-molding helmets and undergo physical therapy.”

A second suit was filed by Samantha Drover-Mundy and Zachary Mundy who claim that their 12-week-old daughter allegedly died just a few minutes after being placed in a Rock ‘n Play sleeper back in September of 2018.

The suit states that “the Rock ‘n Play’s defective design also causes injuries… which require costly medical treatment and can cause life-long damage, including permanent deformities and developmental delays.”

Both suits accuse Fisher-Price and Mattel of disregarding the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on appropriate infant sleep environments and that the companies lobbied the CPSC to allow them to avoid regulations that would have kept the product off the market.

A CPSC official slammed Fisher-Price, claiming its sleeper recall was inadequate and overly complicated and urged the brand to take responsibility for withdrawing the potentially deadly products from the market.

“Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘n Play recall was not good enough to remove these products from homes,” CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka said via a statement. “The incentives Fisher Price offered were inadequate to draw in enough consumers, and the hurdles were too many. Now, eight infants have died after the recall, tragically bringing the death toll associated with the product to over 90 babies.”

In 2021 a two-year investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform found Fisher-Price executives ignored safety warnings about the sleeper for a decade as it continued to rake in $200 million in sales.

The committee’s report found that Fisher-Price did not properly test the product before releasing it in 2009 and then ignored repeated warnings that it was dangerous in the years that followed.

President Biden signed a bill called the “Safe Sleep For Babies Act of 2021” into law in May 2022 to protect against this type of tragedy. Sleepers such as the Rock ‘n Play and crib bumpers are now banned from the US market.

“There is nothing more important to Fisher-Price than the safety of our products and the trust consumers place in us. Our hearts go out to every family who has suffered a loss,” Fisher-Price told the Daily Mail in a statement. “The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was designed and developed following extensive research, medical advice, safety analysis, and more than a year of testing and review. It met or exceeded all applicable regulatory standards.”

“As recently as 2017, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposed to adopt the ASTM voluntary standard for a 30-degree angled inclined sleeper as federal law,” the statement continued.

“After the product launched, different independent medical and other expert analyses verified that it was safe when used in accordance with its instructions and warnings. Two studies confirmed that the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was as safe or safer than other sleep environments such as cribs and bassinets, and one of the studies found that the product had far fewer incidents than the SUID rates in cribs, bassinets, and playpens. In addition, we reported significant incidents to the CPSC beyond the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act,” it added.

“Though the facts show the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was safe when used in accordance with its instructions and warnings, we voluntarily recalled it in 2019 and have continued to work diligently to remove all recalled products from the market. We reaffirm our commitment to parents that we will always put their children’s safety first,” the statement concluded.

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