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Manufacturer and CPSC ignored warnings of crib safety

The Chicago Tribune reported today that both Delta Enterprises, the crib manufacturer, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission ignored evidence of danger for months prior to the recall of 1.6 million cribs.  A 6-month old from Long Island died in 2004 when he was trapped between the side railing and mattress of his crib after the railing left its track.  The Tribune investigation found that Delta and the CPSC ignored a decade-long "trail of warning signs" before the CPSC, in 2008, finally uncovered the pattern of death and injuries in its data base designed to better identify crib hazards.

In fact, both the Long Island child, and an Oregon baby who died in 2002 were the victims of a tiny plastic plug, designed to "pop in and out as the side is lowered", that got stuck in the withdrawn position.  A year after the death of the child on Long Island, a 5 month-old in Georgia was asphyxiated when a similar peg was found missing.  In May of 2007, an 8 month-old Texas girl suffocated in a crib with a missing peg, and in 2008 a jammed peg allowed the death of a Florida boy.  The CPSC and Delta related the recall only to the latter two deaths, even though the CPSC had evidence of the earlier events and had examined the subject cribs.

The CPSC blamed the failure to "connect the dots" on the fact that until 2007, investigators were not automatically made aware of similar events that the agency had previously investigated.  The CPSC's improved "early warning" investigation of similar events was a direct result of the Chicago Tribune's 2007 work involving crib safety, and its disclosure of poor CPSC organization and investigative technique.

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