The Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday recalled 200,000 potentially deadly play yards with Fisher-Price's Rainforest theme. The alert raised questions about the promptness of the warning and whether other models could have the same flaw.
Some 1,350 consumers complained that one or both sides of the Rainforest play yard had collapsed, with many reported injuries that included a broken nose, a mild concussion and a broken wrist. They are often used as portable cribs and have a bassinet attachment. When the rails collapse, babies can fall out, get trapped or gain access to unsafe areas.
The play yards were made by Simplicity Inc., now defunct, under a licensing agreement with Fisher-Price. A unit of Mattel Inc., Fisher-Price agreed to send consumers a $100 refund after they send the company the fabric sides to prevent further use.
Simplicity also made its own branded play yards, some of which are still on the market. It was not clear Thursday if those shared the same flawed design. The CPSC is investigating, said spokesman Scott Wolfson.
At least 18 children have died in other brands of play yards when the railings collapsed into a V-shape that strangled or trapped them, said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger. The consumer group was founded by two University of Chicago professors whose son, Danny Keysar, died in 1998, when the rails of his portable crib collapsed around his neck.
The CPSC knew rails on the Rainforest play yards were collapsing early last year, but officials decided "it did not rise to the level of a recall," Wolfson said. The rails collapse in a U-shape, so they did not pose the same strangulation hazard as prior recalls, he said.
The CPSC reconsidered when it was flooded with complaints late last year after SFCA Inc., the company that bought Simplicity's assets, stopped responding to consumers, Wolfson said. The agency was unsuccessful in prodding SFCA to recall the play yards, he said.
Given the deadly legacy of play yards with collapsing sides, "these play yards should have been taken off the market months ago if not years ago," Cowles said.
To file a recall claim, call 800-432-5437.