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Deaths Prompt Standards for Bassinets

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued mandatory standards for baby bassinets and cradles that include safety testing of bassinets using newborn-sized test dummies instead if infant-sized dummies, in light of recent injuries and deaths.

The new regulations, effective April 23, 2014, implement safety standards for "durable infant or toddler" products mandated by the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

The CPSC said it received 426 reports of incidents involving bassinets and cradles, with 132 fatalities, between November 2007 and March 2013. The agency's Directorate for Epidemiology, Division of Hazard, said its databases show 71 incidents reported between January 18, 2012 and March 31, 2013 alone. Of those incidents, 38 were fatal, according to the action.

A recent incident specifically caught the attention of the CPSC, according to Commissioner Nancy A. Nord in a statement about the new regulations.

"Bassinets have had a number of incidents - fatal and otherwise - over the years. These are heart-wrenching tragedies, and this rule seeks to address them. One specific incident drew the agency's attention, and rightly so - the suffocation death of a three-month-old infant. This tragic death prompted a response from the agency and industry, who together developed a test to ensure that segmented mattresses in bassinets (which are today found in bassinet accessories for multi-purpose products like play yards) would not pose the same suffocation hazard," Nord said.

Bassinets and cradles are defined under the Danny Keysar Act as small beds designed specifically for infants five months or younger, and should no longer be used "when the child is able to push up on his/her hands and knees."

The standards for products falling under this definition "are to be substantially the same as applicable voluntary standards or more stringent than the voluntary standard if the commission concludes that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product," the agency said in its action.

Consultations with consumer groups, juvenile product manufacturers, and independent child product engineers and experts helped form the rule. It incorporates provisions of the voluntary standard, "Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bassinets and Cradles," but also include five recommended modifications made by the CPSC that address risks that were not adequately covered by the voluntary standard, according to the agency.

"The modifications include: a clarification of the scope of the bassinet/cradle standard; a change to the pass/fail criterion for the mattress flatness test; an exemption from the mattress flatness requirement for bassinets that are less than 15 inches across; the addition of a removable bassinet bed stability requirement; and a change to the stability test procedure, requiring the use of a newborn CAMI dummy rather than an infant CAMI dummy," the CPSC said in a Sept. 30 press release.

A CAMI dummy is an anthropomorphic test dummy used to evaluate safety in transportation and children's consumer products. CAMI stands for the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, which creates specifications for the dummies.

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