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At least 100 deaths now linked to recalled Fisher-Price sleeper

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) say the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleepers, which were initially recalled in April 2019, have now been linked to more 100 infant deaths.

The initial recall was issued almost four years ago after it was reported that at least 30 infants had rolled from their back onto their stomach or side while unrestrained in the sleeper, or under other circumstances.

The number has since risen by a further 70 deaths after parents who may have had the sleeper in the ten years between when the product was launched in 2009 and the 2019 recall came forward to state how their infants died in the sleepers. 

An additional eight occurred following the recall when the product was off the shelves. 

A total of 4.7 million units were affected by the recall, according to the CPSC which reissued its recalling of the item once again on Monday.

‘We are issuing this announcement because, despite their removal from the marketplace and a prohibition on their sale, babies continue to die in these products,’ Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric said in a statement. He warned families who still have the sleepers to stop using them immediately. 

‘We now know of approximately 100 infant deaths in the Rock n’ Play, including eight that happened after the recall was announced,’ Hoehn-Saric said.

The original recall only happened once CPSC told Consumer Reports in early 2019 about the deaths associated with the product.

It released data supporting its findings. Only then was the product was taken off the market. 

All of the deaths occurred while the babies were inside sleeper and died from asphyxiation caused by the 30-degree incline of the product. All other sleepers on the market are flat. 

Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs on a flat surface.

The Rock ‘n Play holds the infant on its back at a thirty-degree angle, such that the infant’s feet are at a downward slope from the infant’s head, which studies showed was dangerous for infants even before it was released in 2009 

The Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper in the home of Miana Marie. She used it for her four month old son Mason until the recall in 2019

The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleeper in the home of Miana Marie. She used it for her four month old son Mason until the recall in 2019

 Two federal class-action lawsuits have been filed against Fisher-Price and its parent company Mattel alleging dangerous & defective design and negligence. 

One suit, filed by Cassandra Mulvey against Fisher Price and Mattel, claims the product’s marketing was ‘dangerously false and misleading, as the product is not safe for all-night or prolonged sleep for infants.’ 

The lawsuit suggests the Rock ‘n Play ‘significantly increased the risk that an infant’s head would slip into a dangerous position, tilt to constrict the windpipe and/or cause the infant’s face to become pressed against the padded fabric in the sleeper and block airflow, thereby increasing the risk of death by asphyxiation.’ 

The lawsuit also claims the angle at which children would be resting in the sleeper ‘increases the infant’s risk of developing flat head (plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (torticollis) syndromes, conditions that often require babies to wear expensive head-molding helmets and undergo physical therapy.’ 

Another suit was filed by Samantha Drover-Mundy and Zachary Mundy, a couple in Delaware, after their 12-week-old daughter allegedly died after just a few minutes in a Rock ‘n Play sleeper back in September of 2018. 

The product was first recalled in April 2019 after reports of infants rolling from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained in the sleeper

The product was first recalled in April 2019 after reports of infants rolling from their back to their stomach or side while unrestrained in the sleeper 

In addition to causing their daughter’s death, the suit claims that ‘the Rock ‘n Play’s defective design also causes injuries…which require costly medical treatment and can cause life-long damage, including permanent deformities and developmental delays.’  

The suits also claim that both Fisher-Price and Mattel disregarded the AAP’s recommendations as to appropriate infant sleep environments. 

Furthermore, they alleged that the defendants lobbied the CPSC to let them avoid regulations that would have kept the product off the market. 

In its defense, Fisher-Price stated that in some of the reports, it had been unable to confirm the circumstances of the incidents or that the product involved was a Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. 

Doctors always advise parents to position babies on their backs in cribs, bassinets or other infant beds, but by the time babies are about three months old, they can roll over themselves – and might do so in their sleep. 

In 2021 a two-year investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform found Fisher Price executives ignored safety warnings about the company’s popular incline sleeper for a decade as it continued to rake in $200million in sales.

Finally, the product was recalled after the deaths began to rack up. 

The committee’s report found Fisher Price did not properly test the product before releasing it in 2009 and then ignored repeated warnings that was dangerous in the years that followed.

The Rock ‘n Play holds the infant on its back at a thirty-degree angle, such that the infant’s feet are at a downward slope from the infant’s head. 

There was no independent research – or even internal company research – showing that it was safe for babies to sleep at an angle, a report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission says. 

‘On the contrary, research showed that sleeping on an angle was unsafe.’

Fisher Price became aware of real-life safety concerns as early as 2012 and warned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in February 2018 but didn’t recall the Rock ‘n Play until April 2019. 

‘It is shameful that Fisher-Price endangered lives simply to help its bottom line,’ Maloney said in a statement after the hearing. 

President Biden has since signed a bill called the Safe Sleep For Babies Act of 2021 into law in May 2022. 

Under the new law, infant sleepers such as the Rock ‘n Play and crib bumpers will be banned from the U.S. market. 

A baby sleeping on their stomach can much more easily choke if they regurgitate milk. 

Elevated rockers and bassinets come with warnings that babies should be always strapped in to the seat. 

A previous warning from Fisher-Price said that babies over three months old that were not buckled into the sleeper had rolled over and fallen out of it to their deaths. 

The lawsuit against Fisher Price claims the company marketed the product as a safe way to let babies sleep for prolonged periods even though the company knew of its dangers. 

Sarah Thompson's son Alexander died in the sleeper. She had left him for only 10 minutes

Sarah Thompson’s son Alexander died in the sleeper. She had left him for only 10 minutes

Alexander Thompson died in Fisher Price's Rock 'n Play when he was three months old

Alexander Thompson died in Fisher Price’s Rock ‘n Play when he was three months old

Thompson shows a photo of her son, Alexander, who died in a Rock 'n Play at three months old

Thompson shows a photo of her son, Alexander, who died in a Rock ‘n Play at three months old

One of the babies who died was Sarah Thompson’s son Alexander. She shared her story in an emotional video message during the hearing. 

When he was three months old in 2011, Sarah said she put Alexander in his Rock ‘n Play, helped her older daughter with a toy, went to the bathroom and 15 minutes later found him unresponsive and not breathing. 

‘For almost a decade, I’ve had to question why did he die? How did he die?’ said Thompson, adding that she trusted Fisher Price and its parent company Mattel. 

‘Had they just followed the regulations, Alex would still be with us today … Unfortunately, our family has forever changed. We miss him everyday. We have two younger children who still ask about their older brother in heaven.’

‘I left Alexander for no more than 15 minutes, and when I returned I found him unresponsive, and his head was slumped at a strange angle. I yanked him out of the sleeper and tried to remember CPR, but despite my efforts as well as those of the paramedics and hospital staff, Alexander died,’ she said.

‘Alexander’s death could have been prevented if Fisher-Price had recalled the product once they knew it was unsafe. If we had only known about the risks associated with inclined sleepers earlier, Alexander might still be with us today.’ 

Erika Richter's daughter Emma died in a Rock 'n Play sleeper in August 2018

Erika Richter’s daughter Emma died in a Rock ‘n Play sleeper in August 2018

Erika Richter, of Oregon, holds her newborn daughter Emma in 2018 who also died

Erika Richter, of Oregon, holds her newborn daughter Emma in 2018 who also died

Erika Richter's daughter Emma also died in the Rock 'n Play

Erika Richter’s daughter Emma also died in the Rock ‘n Play

Thompson was one of two parents who spoke. The other was Erika Richter, whose daughter Emma also died in the Rock ‘n Play. 

‘Life on Earth is tragically short. I choose to explore it all and live a life that would make her proud. That little angel change my life forever. I’m always going to be Emma’s Mom. Now and forever,’ Richter said in a Facebook post.  

Former United States Representative and Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney said during the hearing, ‘What we found is absolutely shocking. It is a national scandal.’  

Maloney said at the time of its release, the sleeper was the first product of on the market and branded for overnight sleep, despite evidence that sleeping at an incline could put infants at risk of serious harm or death. 

James R. Weigand III, a six-month-old baby from Kenmore, New York, died in January 2018 after he was placed into the sleeper for a nap but never woke up

James R. Weigand III, a six-month-old baby from Kenmore, New York, died in January 2018 after he was placed into the sleeper for a nap but never woke up

James R. Weigand III, a six-month-old baby from Kenmore, New York, died in January 2018 after he was placed into the sleeper for a nap but never woke up.

‘They put their son down for a nap and shortly thereafter, they came back and noticed that the child wasn’t breathing,’ said the father’s attorney, Jed Dietrich to Buffalo News. 

‘It’s been an absolute catastrophe for the family. They’ll never recover completely.

‘The advertising was marketing it as an overnight sleeper, which would imply that an infant could be in it without being watched over the entire night,’ Dietrich said. ‘Fisher-Price knew this was a danger, and they ignored that danger for profits.’ 

Baby Ezra died in December 2017 after his parents, Keenan and Evan Overton, laid him down in the sleeper while they worked out. They received the product from their neighbors as a hand-me-down gift.

Baby Ezra died in December 2017 after his parents, Keenan and Evan Overton, laid him down in the sleeper while they worked out. They received the product from their neighbors as a hand-me-down gift.

Baby Ezra died in December 2017 after his parents, Keenan and Evan Overton, laid him down in the sleeper while they worked out. 

They received the product from their neighbors as a hand-me-down gift.  

‘I stayed out in the family room and lay down on the couch next to the rocker, telling my wife that she could get some rest in the bedroom,’ his father told the Kids In Danger website. 

‘When I woke up in the middle of the night, I looked up, and I saw Ezra, turned into the monkey’s padded face and standing up in the seat of the chair. He was stiff like a doll, with his face twisted toward the side/back of the seat. His nose was squished flat. He was unresponsive.He did not feel real. When I picked him up, he felt like a doll.’

Five-month-old Ezra had suffocated as his father lay nearby on a sofa.  

Keenan and Evan Overton's five-month old died in December 2017 while he was sleeping in the Fisher-Price Rock 'N Play product

Keenan and Evan Overton’s five-month old died in December 2017 while he was sleeping in the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play product

Ezra died while in the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper, seen above, days before Christmas

Ezra died while in the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleeper, seen above, days before Christmas

Savannah Lynn Savage was found dead in a one of the sleepers aged just four months in January 2019.

The medics and the coroner all suspected that the rocker she had been in was associated with her death, her grandmother Cathy Greninger said to WABI.

Less than one month after her death Greninger notified both Fisher-Price and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about the tragedy.

‘I wanted to let them know as soon as possible that there’s a problem with this rocker so they can investigate it, see if there were any technical designs wrong with it, engineering flaws, just to kind of give them a heads up.

‘To find out that there were that many deaths was really a shocking part,’ Greninger said.

Savannah Lynn Savage was found dead in a one of the sleepers aged just four months in January 2019

Savannah Lynn Savage was found dead in a one of the sleepers aged just four months in January 2019

Fisher Price executives ignored safety warnings about its popular 'Rock 'n Play' incline sleeper (pictured) for a decade as the company raked in $200million in sales before finally recalling the product after more than 30 infants died in it. That figure now tops 100

Fisher Price executives ignored safety warnings about its popular ‘Rock ‘n Play’ incline sleeper (pictured) for a decade as the company raked in $200million in sales before finally recalling the product after more than 30 infants died in it. That figure now tops 100

Committee Chairwoman and now former Rep. Carolyn Maloney said during the 2021 hearing, 'What we found is absolutely shocking. It is a national scandal'

Committee Chairwoman and now former Rep. Carolyn Maloney said during the 2021 hearing, ‘What we found is absolutely shocking. It is a national scandal’ 

Between February 2018 and the product’s eventual recall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission hired a medical expert to evaluate the risk of infants rolling over and suffocating in induced sleep products and found the Rock ‘n Play was unsafe. 

During the CPSC’s research, it had to remain quiet ‘because of laws preventing CPSC from disclosing information provided by manufacturers.

‘CPSC could not publicly release any information about the deaths or injuries associated with Rock ‘n Play or institute a recall without engaging in costly and drawn out litigation or administrative proceedings,’ according to the report. 

The CPSC told Consumer Reports in early 2019 about the deaths associated with the product and inadvertently released supporting data, yet the CPSC or Fisher Price were not planning to recall the Rock ‘n Play until Consumer Reports said they were going to publish the data. 

Within days, the product was taken off the market. 

‘When product reports came in saying the product was linked to babies’ deaths, Fisher Price ignored those reports. Only when media outlets like Consumer Reports publicized the danger of their product did Fisher Price take them off the market,’ said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, head of the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee. 

‘Fisher Price and (parent company) Mattel have showed that they cannot police themselves,’ Krishnamoorthi said during during the 2021 hearing. 

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, head of the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee, said  'Fisher Price and (parent company) Mattel have showed that they cannot police themselves'

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, head of the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee, said  ‘Fisher Price and (parent company) Mattel have showed that they cannot police themselves’

The company's CEO, Ynon Kreiz, who joined Fisher-Price/Mattel in 2018 and is a dad of four, has apologized for everything that happened

The company’s CEO, Ynon Kreiz, who joined Fisher-Price/Mattel in 2018 and is a dad of four, has apologized for everything that happened

Ynon Kreiz, Mattel’s CEO, who joined the company in 2018 has apologized for everything that happened.  

‘On behalf of myself and everyone at Mattel, I want to convey my deep and sincere condolences to parents and anyone affected by the heartbreaking tragedies.’ 

‘I am a father of four children, and I can only imagine that there cannot be a more terrible loss than that of a child.’ 

 A Fisher Price spokesperson emailed a statement to DailyMail.com.

‘There is nothing more important to Fisher-Price than the safety of our products and the trust consumers place in us. Our hearts go out to every family who has suffered a loss.

‘The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was designed and developed following extensive research, medical advice, safety analysis, and more than a year of testing and review. It met or exceeded all applicable regulatory standards. 

‘As recently as 2017, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposed to adopt the ASTM voluntary standard for a 30-degree angled inclined sleeper as federal law.

‘After the product launched, different independent medical and other expert analyses verified that it was safe when used in accordance with its instructions and warnings. Two studies confirmed that the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was as safe or safer than other sleep environments such as cribs and bassinets, and one of the studies found that the product had far fewer incidents than the SUID rates in cribs, bassinets, and playpens. In addition, we reported significant incidents to the CPSC beyond the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act.

‘Though the facts show the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was safe when used in accordance with its instructions and warnings, we voluntarily recalled it in 2019 and have continued to work diligently to remove all recalled product from the market. We reaffirm our commitment to parents that we will always put their children’s safety first.’ 

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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