WASHINGTON -- Drop-side cribs, linked to more than 30 children's deaths and more than 11 million recalls in the past decade, have been banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

CPSC board members voted unanimously last week to make it illegal to sell drop-side cribs, including at resale shops, garage sales and online transactions.

The CPSC's new standard, which requires cribs to have fixed side, takes effect in June. The ban also requires child-care centers and hotels to stop using drop-side cribs within the next two years.   

Following the vote, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, said, "I believe these new standards will markedly reduce crib-related hazards and help to ensure that young children sleep more safely in their cribs."

The CPSC's vote, followed action taken by the safety agency in July to prohibit the sale and resale of drop-side cribs.

Big Names in Recalls
The crib recalls have included some of the biggest names in furniture manufacturing and children's products, including Bassett Furniture, Child Craft, Delta Enterprise, Ethan Allen, Evenflo, LaJobiSimmons Juvenile Products, Simplicity and Storkcraft

Most of the drop-side crib malfunctions have been tied to hardware malfunctions, frequently involving plastic parts that have broken that can lead to the drop-side rail detaching from the crib. This circumstance can create a gap between the mattress and side rail in which a baby can become entrapped and possibly suffocate or strangle.

The Juvenile Products Safety Association (JPMA) has maintained that properly assembled and maintained drop-side cribs, including those subject of the recalls, are safe to use. On its website, the JPMA notes that most crib complaints involve secondhand or used cribs "misassembled" or modified with makeshift hardware. The JPMA recommends that parents and caregivers inspect drop-side cribs for potential hardware malfunctions and if any are discovered, contact the manufacturer for an approved remedy.

JPMA Reacts
The Juvenile Product Safety Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), which represents most of the companies that have been involved in drop-side crib recalls, anticipated the ban last year when it adopted a new voluntary ASTM standard that eliminated drop-side cribs and created new testing procedures. The association posted a statement on its website after the CPSC's vote noting that its members are prepared to meet the new standard but that the cost of materials need to be in compliance will add about 10 percent to the cost of the new standard will add to the cost of a crib's manufacture.

"Because of this early adoption, there will be a negligible impact to manufacturers upon passing of the final rule in terms of product being able to meet the new federal standard," JPMA said in a statement posted on its website December 15. "However, JPMA is concerned that there be a timely and orderly transition to products which meet the new standard so as to ensure enough product in the marketplace by the compliance date without the burden of re-testing already safe product.

"JPMA does anticipate impact on the cost to be in compliance with the new mandatory rule to the manufacturers from a material standpoint. JPMA estimates the impact to be upwards of approximately 10% due to additional materials being utilized in order to meet some of the new requirements. The association estimates that in 2009 there were approximately 1.5 million full size and rigid, non-full size units sold in the U.S. and this represent approximately $125 million in manufacturer (not retail) sales."

NY First, Canada Next to Ban Drop-Sides
In July, New York Gov. David Patterson signed a bill prohibiting the sale, import, manufacture and distribution of drop-side-cribs state wide. The law took affect in October.

In September, Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Minister of Health, announced the launch of a public consultation process which could lead to a new prohibition against drop-side cribs. In gearing up for a rule making, Health Canada had set a December 15 deadline to accept public comments.

"Our crib requirements are already among the strictest in the world, but in the past few years we have worked with industry to voluntarily recall several models of drop-side cribs," Aglukkaq said. "We believe that an outright ban on the traditional style of drop-side cribs may be required in order to better protect our children."

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.