Stating that the record could not support the requested action, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today unanimously voted (3-0) to deny a petition by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Washington State Chapter of the AAP, the National Safe Kids Campaign, and Consumers Union to ban baby walkers.
The Commissioners voted (2-1) to direct the staff to develop a project for Commission consideration that would contain recommendations for an appropriate course of action to address the alleged hazards associated with baby walkers. In making the decision to consider further study of the issue, the Commissioners noted that the staff had identified baby walkers as a project proposal before the petition was even submitted.
The CPSC staff findings indicate that the risk of walker- related injuries relative to the number of live births in the U.S. has remained virtually stable since 1984. Nevertheless, the CPSC estimates that there were about 27,000 walker-related injuries to children under 15 months of age treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 1991. About three-fourths of the injuries were due to falls down steps. While most of those injured were treated and released and most injuries were not considered severe, about one-third of the injuries were considered more severe. This proportion of "more severe" injuries related to baby walkers is similar to that of other commonly used juvenile products, such as cribs, playpens, high chairs, and changing tables. In addition, the CPSC staff is aware of approximately one death per year associated with baby walkers.
The CPSC urges parents to take precautions and watch children in baby walkers. Parents should block off stairways and exit doorways; avoid areas where there are uneven floors such as carpet edges or raised thresholds that may cause walkers to tip over; clear away objects on tables, countertops, or stove tops that children in walkers might be able to reach; and don't let children in walkers near ranges, space heaters, or fireplaces. The CPSC advises parents to always watch children in walkers very carefully because they can move very fast in walkers.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's mission is to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury and death associated with consumer products. The Commission's objective is to reduce the estimated 28.5 million injuries and 21,600 deaths each year that are associated with the 15,000 different types of consumer products under CPSC's jurisdiction.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Statements of Chairman Jacqueline-Jones Smith, Commissioner Gall, and Commissioner Dawson are available upon request. Call 301-504-7908 for copies.
EDITOR'S NOTE: After hours CPSC contact is Dan Rumelt, 202-337-8274.
About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years.
Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.
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