Thursday, March 25, 2010

Baby Slings Recalled: Necessary or Overreaction?

On March 11, I raised the question of common sense vs. a manufacturer's design flaw in regards to baby's suffocating in the baby sling. Yesterday more than 1 million baby slings were recalled by Infantino in the United States and another 15,000 in Canada. The recall involved Infantino's "SlingRider" and Wendy Bellissimo" line after the Consumer Product Safety Commission deemed unsafe for babies younger than 4 months. Infant deaths attributed to Infantino is 3 (http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/PRHTML10/10177.html). I understand that infants met an untimely end due to the use of the baby sling, but with only 3 deaths and more than a million slings sold I stand by my original assessment of human error.

An Anonymous stated, "So absolutely no sympathy for the parents. Wow. You are heartless." I still stand by my assessment that, while unfortunate, this is an example of our society going soft. To have 3 defects in a product is something every manufacturer of durable goods strives for. Keep in mind we only have 3 deaths (defects) in over a million slings sold. And as another Anonymous noted, the recall by Infantino is to head off the "ambulance chasing" lawyers that exist. During the health care reform debate a lot was made of the lack of Tort reform and without it the cost of health care would not realize the reduction in costs expected. Well, the same can be applied here.

Infantino did not produce a product when used correctly would result in death of an infant. We all know that if you place a cloth over someone's mouth and nose that eventually they will stop breathing. Also, if you have an infant with little to no neck control and allow their chin to rest on their chest for an extended period of time suffocation will be the outcome. So again, while tragic, we need to apply common sense when using products we purchase. I am not absolving manufacturers of producing safe products; rather I am imploring consumers to be accountable for their own actions when using the product. If these slings were really death traps then we'd be hearing about more than 3 deaths in over a million slings sold. It is unfortunate that those three parents had to endure the hardship they experienced but it does not come down to common sense. That conclusion I understand is a bitter pill to swallow and brutal honesty is something lacking in our society but sometimes we need to call it for what it is. The baby sling case is a prime example of that; lack of common sense leading to a tragic end and loss of life.