Lawmakers call on US to ‘eliminate’ baby loungers after babies die

Two members of Congress are calling on the feds to take action on pillow-shaped baby loungers after an NBC News investigation found there have been far more product-related deaths than officials announced previously.

In a letter sent Friday to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., described the lounge chairs as “unnecessary products” that put endangering the lives of infants. .

“A strong rule that eliminates pillow-like lounge chairs and other similar products that invite parents to use them, believing these products to be safe for infant sleep, is essential,” Blumenthal and Schakowsky said. in the letter.

At least 25 deaths have been linked to baby loungers since 2015, NBC News reported this year. In September 2021, the federal government recalled more than 3 million infant loungers made by The Boppy Company, citing eight deaths of infants who allegedly suffocated after being placed on the product.

But deaths continued to occur in both the Boppy Newborn Lounger and those sold by other manufacturers, NBC News found. Newborns can suffocate on the soft surface of lounge chairs or suffocate when their body gets stuck in a position that restricts breathing.

Boppy and other manufacturers said their loungers were never intended for sleeping and warned consumers against leaving babies unattended. But newborns can quickly fall asleep on padded surfaces like loungers, putting them at increased risk of suffocation and asphyxiation, medical experts have said, and images of babies dozing on them continue to proliferate. on social networks.

The CPSC is expected to move forward with new safety regulations for baby loungers in the coming weeks. These regulations could potentially range from mandatory warning labels to design standards that could effectively ban certain types of sun loungers, according to the commission’s requirements. But any new rules would go through a years-long process that includes public review and comment.

“I have been encouraged by the unwavering commitment Senator Blumenthal and Representative Schakowsky have demonstrated to our work to protect babies from unsafe products,” CPSC Chairman Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a statement. “We look forward to their continued support as we work to develop performance standards to make these products safer.”

Blumenthal and Schakowsky also praised the agency for suing Leachco after the manufacturer refused to cooperate with a recall of its baby lounger. The CPSC previously reported two deaths linked to Leachco’s product. A hearing for the safety commission’s lawsuit against the company is scheduled for August 7.

Leachco defended the safety of its lounger when used as intended and filed a countersuit against the federal agency. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, the CPSC warned the public against using another sun lounger sold exclusively on Amazon after the Gorsetle US company refused to cooperate in a recall. The product no longer appears to be sold on the online retailer’s website. Amazon declined to comment, and Gorsetle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Boppy declined to comment on the lawmakers’ letter to the CPSC, but referred NBC News to its earlier criticism of Meta for not doing enough to prevent its recalled lounge chairs from being sold used on Facebook Marketplace.

In June, CPSC and Boppy again announced their recall of the company’s lounge chairs, citing the widespread availability of the product on platforms like Facebook. The federal agency said two additional product-related deaths occurred after the initial recall was announced in 2021.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company previously said that Facebook Marketplace policies prohibit the sale of recalled items and that it removes listings that violate those policies.

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