New York Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand is not new to Congress and continues to make family issues a priority on Capitol Hill. A mother of two small children, she has announced that she will introduce legislation that would ban drop-side cribs as a dangerous baby product. While many may think this is not as controversial an issue as health care and immigration reform, it is becoming a shockingly important issue.
Numbers often speak louder than words. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued 11 recalls involving more than 9 million drop-side cribs since 2005. In the United States, drop-side cribs have been linked to, or suspected to be linked to, approximately 50 infant fatalities in the last decade.
The CPSC, with a mission of protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from consumer products, has reported growing concerns about the safety risks of drop-side cribs. Although drop-side cribs have been around for decades, newer models are not as sturdy as the older ones. While offering convenience to parents, these newer versions come with risks of entrapment, strangulation, suffocation and other injuries. As a result, the CPSC is recommending a new mandatory federal standard for cribs, which would include banning drop-side cribs.
In a bold move toward regulation and banning, the CPSC, with the cooperation of a number of crib manufacturers, announced a voluntary recall of various brands of drop-side cribs. While no deaths have been reported, the voluntary recalls are linked with concerns that faulty products could lead to the injury of small children.
The CPSC is also developing new crib standards to increase safety, but the standard may not be implemented until next year. In response to the growing concern and need for quicker action, Gillibrand has moved forward with legislation that would make manufacturing, sale and resale of drop-side cribs illegal and would ban them for use in hotels and day care centers. In addition to Gillibrand's proposed legislation in the Senate, a sister proposal is being developed by House of Representatives member Joe Crowley.
Senator Gillibrand's proposed legislation would not only provide temporary consumer protections until the new crib standards are implemented, but would also offer another benefit: The junior senator's efforts have heightened consumer awareness of the issue and the need for more stringent child furniture regulations. By increasing public awareness, children’s lives can be saved.