An alarming new study shows that an inclined sleeper, linked to the deaths of dozens of babies across the country, is still being sold and used at some child care facilities.
Earlier this year, Fisher-Price recalled all 4.7 million of its Rock ‘n Play Sleepers, citing the deaths of more than 30 infants as the reason behind the move. Despite that recall, a new study finds that they’re still being used by some parents, and are even available for purchase on some online websites.
“We don’t recall products because they don’t look nice. We recall products because they have the potential to hurt, harm or even kill people,” Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said.
According to the group’s website, a consumer watchdog team found that 1-in-10 daycare centers are still using the sleepers.
With an incline of 10-to-30 degrees, inclined sleepers are used by parents hoping to calm babies’ reflux, and to help them get back to sleep.
Medical experts say babies’ heads can roll forward or to the side in the sleepers, causing them to asphyxiate. PIRG found that some centers are still using the sleepers, including some in Wisconsin.
The group says that survey results show the dangers of inadequate and confusing recall systems, which make it more difficult for parents and daycare operators from finding critical safety information.
“Nobody hears enough about recalled products,” Mierzwinski said. “The Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn’t have enough tools to force manufacturers and retailers to really spend money on recalls, to really pull out the stops and tell people.”
In addition to some daycare center and parents still using the recalled devices, the study also found that some websites, including Facebook Marketplace, are still allowing the recalled units to be sold. In a statement, Facebook said it uses a combination of technology, human review, and community reporting to catch prohibited items, and encourages users to report items that may have been recalled for safety reason.
Another website, eBay, also says it uses software filters and a reporting system to catch recalled items and that it will remove any recalled sleepers that remain for sale on its platform.
In the meantime, activist groups are pushing for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to work with state agencies and child care facilities to automatically notify them of recalled children’s products.