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Federal safety regulators propose major redesign of baby loungers

By Parija Kavilanz, CNN

New York (CNN) — Federal consumer safety regulators are pushing ahead in their effort to make baby loungers safer by proposing a major redesign of the products, following 79 deaths connected with their use.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission on Wednesday voted to adopt proposed agency recommendations for changes to lounger products that require manufacturers to make all lounger surfaces sufficiently firm so they don’t conform to a baby’s face and increase the risk of suffocation.

Another recommended redesign is for the height of the infant support side cushions to not exceed two inches, again to reduce the risk of entrapment and suffocation. The agency said that limiting the height of the side cushions could also “discourage caregivers from mistakenly believing these products to be safe for unattended infants.”

The CPSC told CNN Thursday that the agency’s proposal will now proceed to a 60-day public comment period after which the agency will reevaluate its recommendations. It may or may not amend its proposal. The agency could then proceed to mandate that manufacturers implement the proposed design changes.

“Infant support cushions have fallen outside of the reach of both voluntary and mandatory safety standards. And the risks from these products are real, with 79 infant deaths attributed to these products since 2010,” CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a comment to CNN.

“The Commission’s unanimous vote is an important step towards establishing a safety standard for these products that will prevent families from experiencing the tragedy of losing a child in a product they thought was safe. The bottom line is, products that are made for babies should be safe for babies,” he said.

The CPSC has repeatedly warned that infant loungers posed a risk of suffocation if infants rolled, moved, or were placed on the lounger in a position that obstructed breathing, or if infants rolled off the lounger onto an external surface, such as an adult pillow.

In its investigation of loungers, the agency said it had identified at least 79 reported deaths from 2010 to 2022 that involved infant support cushions. It also noted 125 non-fatal incidents or reports involving loungers in the same time period.

According to federal safety regulators, more than 80% of the deaths involved babies three-months old and younger.

In a majority of the cases, the cause of death was either asphyxia or probable asphyxia following the use of an infant support cushion placed in or on an adult bed, futon, crib, bassinet, play yard, or on a couch, the agency said.

It said the non-fatal incidents most commonly involved a child falling from an infant support cushion placed on a raised surface such as a bed or a sofa.

In 2021, more than 3 million Boppy Newborn Loungers were recalled after eight infants died as a result of use of the product. The deaths occurred between December 2015 and June 2020.

In June of this year, the CPSC again urged parents and caregivers to stop using Boppy Newborn Loungers after two more infants died after the agency’s mass recall of that product.

The agency said it was unlawful for recalled products to be listed for sale on an online marketplace or to sell or donate a recalled product in any other manner.

Earlier this month, the CPSC recalled more than 4,000 Yoocaa baby loungers, sold on Amazon, because of suffocation risk.

The best place for an infant to sleep is on a firm, flat surface in a crib, bassinet, or play yard. It said parents and caregivers should not put blankets, pillows, padded crib bumpers, or other items near a sleeping infant and that infants should always be placed to sleep on their backs.

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