By Colleen Kave, J.D.
Late last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted 3-2 in favor of a new federal mandatory standard to improve the safety of infant bouncer seats. Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle and Commissioner Joseph Mohorovic voted to incorporate the existing voluntary standard, ASTM F2167-17, by reference. According to a CPSC news release, theSafety Standard for Infant Bouncer Seats is based on the voluntary standard, but contains more stringent requirements aimed at further reducing the risk of serious head injuries associated with bouncer seats falling from elevated surfaces, such as tables and counter tops.
Infant bouncer seats, which support babies up to 6 months old in a reclined position and allow them to bounce, can be dangerous if used improperly. Between January 2006 and July 2016, there were 347 incidents involving bouncer seats reported to CPSC, including 12 fatalities and 54 injuries. The major cause of reported fatalities was suffocation resulting from unrestrained babies turning over in a bouncer or bouncers tipping over on soft surfaces. Additionally, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported 874 incidents involving bouncer seats from January 2006 to December 2015, mainly stemming from infants falling while in bouncers or from bouncers placed in hazardous locations, such as kitchen countertops, tables, and other elevated surfaces. Falls resulted in concussions and skull fractures to babies. These types of injuries can lead to brain damage and long-lasting health effects.
The Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, Section 104(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008(CPSIA), requires CPSC to issue consumer product safety standards for durable infant and toddler products. In the past seven years, the agency has approved new federal safety standards for several products, including full-size cribs, non-full-size cribs, play yards, baby walkers, baby bath seats, children’s portable bed rails, strollers, toddler beds, infant swings, handheld infant carriers, soft infant carriers, framed infant carriers, bassinets, cradles, portable hook-on chairs, and infant slings.
While ASTM F2167-17 improved the requirements for stability of infant bouncer seats to address tip-over incidents and addressed incidents involving battery leakage, corrosion, and overheating, CPSC’s new mandatory standard further augments the safety measures by requiring a fall hazard warning label to be placed on the front of the bouncer seat near the baby’s head and shoulders. Caregivers will also be instructed (1) to use restraints, even if a baby falls asleep in the bouncer, which is a likely occurrence; (2) to use the bouncer on the floor, never on a countertop, table, or other elevated surface; (3) to refrain from placing the bouncer on a bed, sofa, or other soft surface; and(4) to stop using the bouncer when a child is able to sit up on his/her own, or the baby reaches 20 lbs. or the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight.
MainStory: TopStory BabyProductsNews
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