There are many products parents purchase for their babies to try to keep them safe. From high chairs to baby carriers to car seats, it seems there is an endless amount of baby gear designed to protect a baby during any type of activity.
Sometimes the very same products designed to help keep infants safe end up causing them harm. There has been a rising number of injuries in recent years caused by problems with various types of baby products. Parents need to be aware of the substantial risk that a child could be hurt or even killed if using any of these items.
Parents should shop carefully for baby gear to try to ensure they find the safest possible products. If something goes wrong and a baby is harmed, parents must understand their options. If the injury was caused by a problem with a defective product, the manufacturer — and anyone else in the chain of distribution — could potentially be held accountable for harm, in some cases regardless of whether the maker of the baby gear was negligent.
Understanding the Rising Risk of Injuries Due to Problems with Baby Products
Scientific American recently revealed some troubling statistics about baby products. According to the information presented:
- A child under the age of 3 has an accident once every eight minutes in the U.S. because of baby products.
- More than 66,000 annual injuries occur to children under age three because of a problem with a baby product.
- Concussions and head injuries are a leading reason for emergency room visits because of problems with baby gear.
- Almost 1.4 million injuries related to baby gear occurred during 1991 to 2011. There was a surge in the number of injuries during the last four years of the study, with the number of injuries going up by 24 percent.
- In the study’s early years, there was a decline in injuries likely attributed to increased awareness of the dangers of baby walkers.
- Baby carriers accounted for approximately 20 percent of injuries and were the product accounting for the most injuries. Infant carrier injuries can occur when parents don’t properly use carrier straps or when a carrier is put up on a counter or up on a table instead of being put on the floor as recommended.
- Mattresses, cribs, and bedding were the category of products responsible for causing the second highest number of injuries. Around 19 percent of injuries happened because of a child’s bedding or crib. Drop side cribs were a leading cause of injury until they were banned in 2011.
- Strollers were involved in 17 percent of injuries. Strollers had problems including toppling and babies not being properly secured by buckles or straps. Wide wheel bases tend to be safer, but parents must ensure wheel locks are used when necessary.
- Exercisers, jumpers, and walkers accounted for 16 percent of accidents.
While sometime the injuries were the fault of improper use, in other circumstances the products themselves were to blame. It should be noted that even improper use of a product will not necessarily bar an opportunity for compensation if plaintiffs can show the product was being used in a manner that was foreseeable. This is a legal doctrine known as “foreseeable misuse.” This theory protects consumers who misuse a product in a way a manufacturer either should have or did anticipate. Parents need to determine if a product defect caused harm and should take appropriate legal action if that is the case.