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Unsafe Children's Products Kept Secret from Public

Watch out for these strollers, cribs and high chairs.

Nothing's worse than putting your trust in a stroller or crib, and then finding out that that product wasn't safe for your child and the manufacturer hid that fact from you. Yet that is exactly what the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says a major children's product manufacturer did-- hide defects from the public that were causing injuries and even deaths. CPSC recently fined Cosco/Safety 1st for $1.75 Million for failing to report product defects, the largest fine against any children's product manufacturer in the agency's history. Cosco is the largest manufacturer of strollers and car seats in the United States.

Under federal law, companies are required to report to CPSC if they obtain information suggesting that one of their products could present a substantial risk of injury to consumers. Both companies had such information and did not report it to CPSC. Cosco made design or label changes to cribs, strollers, car seat carriers and high chairs after receiving injury and incident reports from consumers, but failed to inform CPSC about the hazards. Tragically, CPSC says that two babies died and more than 300 children were injured while using certain suspect products. Safety 1st knowingly withheld information about defects with its walkers and wipe warmers that caused six injuries to children, according to CPSC. Cosco has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle CPSC charges. Safety 1st has agreed to pay a $450,000 settlement to CPSC.

An 8-month-old in White Lake, Mich., died of asphyxiation in one of COSCO's cribs on June 24, 1997. During that period, Cosco initiated a number of warning label and assembly instruction changes but did not inform the CPSC. Cosco knew about 10 incidents of the mattress sold with its cribs compressing and allowing infants to become entrapped in the mattress platform. An 11-month-old in Joliet, Ill., died when he fell feet first through the slats of the mattress platform and became entrapped at the neck.

In another case, the Two Ways Tandem Stroller with two children inside collapsed in the path of an oncoming car and was nearly hit. After a complaint from a retailer, Cosco added a secondary locking mechanism to just the strollers in its inventory. When asked by the CPSC, Cosco reported it had received 3,000 complaints of locks failing, including 250 reports of strollers collapsing. Safety 1st discovered that children's teeth could get caught on the steering wheel of its Mobile 4 Wheelin' Walkers, but did not inform the CPSC until it had received reports of six incidents, including five where children had their teeth pulled out by the walker.

"The law is there to help catch problems quickly so products can be recalled before a child is injured or, as in this case, killed," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "I want this fine to send the message that we won't tolerate companies that hide safety information from the public."

Although the companies agreed to pay the civil penalties, Cosco and Safety 1st deny the charges. Dorel, the parent company of Cosco and Safety 1st, has pledged to clean up its act and eliminate any future reporting problems and improve the quality of its products.

For more information on the specific products to watch out for, visit

Sources used to create this article include U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).