The latest round of recalls involving more than 2 million cribs has me scratching my head.

Individual announcements of voluntary recalls were issued June 24 by seven companies for cribs sold between 2000 and 2009. Evenflo of Miamsiburg, OH, and Delta Enterprise Corp. of New York, NY; accounted for 750,000 and 747,000 of the recalled cribs respectively.

They come on the heels of more than 10 other major crib recalls by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission over the past five years, mostly of the drop-side variety, totaling more than 7 million units. Those recalled cribs are tied to 32 infant deaths by the CPSC.

While it’s great news that these newly recalled cribs by seven companies have not been implicicated in babies’ deaths, I can’t help but wonder what the safety litmus test now is for the tens of millions of other baby sleeping products that have not yet been tabbed for recall. By now, the manufacturers of those products must understand that they are just one or two incidents away from joining the recall contingent.

The latest recalls, consolidated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission with the cooperation of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), are based on more than 275 complaints of defective products, including about 50 reports of incidents in which children became entrapped or fell from their cribs. Most of these incidents resulted in no or minor injuries. A small handful of these incidents, however, did result in a child requiring hospital attention for injuries.

The JPMA, which approved the use of its safety seal on the majority of the recalled cribs, has worked closely with the CPSC on last week's recalls. In most cases, the seven companies are offering free repair kits to immobilize the drop sides or other remedies.

Why I’m Scratching My Head
There are many reasons that I’m having trouble coming to grips with the crib issue.

First, with the U.S. quickly approaching 10 million crib recalls over the last five years, I’m begining to wonder: Is there such a thing as a safe crib, at least in the eyes of federal regulators?

Second, in spite of the numerous crib recalls and bad press that has been generated in recent years, I wonder if consumers are really paying attention. Are they discontinuing use of a recalled crib until they fully exercize the recommended remedy or are they assuming that all is well, because as in the case of most of the 10 million recalled cribs, they have not experienced any problems?

Third, while most of the recalls are related to hardware malfunctions, I can't help but wonder how many of the problems are due to lack of maintenance by caregivers. The CPSC has documented numerous incidences in which the crib rails were assembled upside down.

Fourth, what is the expected service life of a crib and how does the number of children its used by inpact a crib's safe-use longevity.The JPMA, in commenting on last week's recalls, rcommended that a baby crib be retired after 10 years.

Fifth, what does Kathy Ireland Worldwide know about opportunities in crib sales that many others do not? What makes the company think this is a good time to get into the crib business as we reported last week? Of equal interest, would Kathy Ireland still be linking up with LaJobi, it it had known the company was about to recall 306,000 cribs as part of last week’s mass recall? Bad timing to announce a partnership, at the very least.

Recalls Not China-Made Only
While the highest percentage of recent crib recalls have been related to imported Chinese products, the latest recalls have involved manufacturers of many other countries including the United States.

The newest recalls also involved many products retailing for more than $500.

So, forgive me, but I’m still scratching my head, thinking that the other shoe is yet to drop. Once an issue like crib safety erupts to the forefront, it does not quickly drift away. The trial lawyers see blood in the water and will have a field day pointing out what coulda, woulda, shoulda been done to make cribs safer and make millions in the process.

Stay tuned.

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