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Consumer Product Safety Commission Warns Parents About 'Rock 'n Play' Infant Rocker


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning parents to stop using the Rock 'n Play sleeper for infants made by Fisher-Price. So far, at least 10 infant deaths have been linked to the product since 2015. NPR's Patti Neighmond reports.

PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: The Rock 'n Play is sort of a cushioned seat where infants can be placed on their back. Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has issued this warning to parents and caregivers.

ANN MARIE BUERKLE: If you're using this Rock 'n Play made by Fisher-Price, and your baby is 3-months-old or has exhibited signs of being able to roll over, do not use this product.

NEIGHMOND: That's because if parents don't use the straps that come with the product to restrain their infant's movement, there can be dangerous consequences.

BUERKLE: The infant rolls to their side or to their tummies - to the front. And they're face down. And because they are unable to move their heads, and they're younger babies, they suffocate in the bedding.

NEIGHMOND: In addition to the 10 infant deaths reported so far, the commission is investigating another 22 deaths to determine whether they are also the result of an infant rolling over and suffocating. Buerkle says these other deaths could have been caused by something else, but are all linked to the same product.

The Safety Commission is now examining which steps to take next, and that could include a recall of the product. The American Academy of Pediatrics says just warning parents isn't enough. The product is deadly, says pediatrician Benjamin Hoffman, spokesperson for the Academy, and should be recalled immediately.

BENJAMIN HOFFMAN: The fact of the matter is babies are dying in the Rock 'n Play.

NEIGHMOND: Which is marketed as a place where infants can sleep. But Hoffman says it is not a safe place.

HOFFMAN: The safest place for a baby to sleep is on a firm, flat mattress in their own space.

NEIGHMOND: With no toys, stuffed animals or pillows - not even in a car seat.

HOFFMAN: Less is more in this circumstance because of the risk of suffocation, strangulation.

NEIGHMOND: In a statement, Fisher-Price says they stand by the safety of the Rock 'n Play sleeper but continue to work closely with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to determine what comes next. Patti Neighmond, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF HENRIK SCHWARZ'S "4011 LITER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Award-winning journalist Patti Neighmond is NPR's health policy correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.