Fisher-Price's baby sleeper that was recalled after 30 infant deaths was reportedly developed without proper testing
- A Fisher-Price sleeper for babies was recalled last month after being linked to infant deaths.
- It was reportedly designed without medical safety tests and relied on just a single doctor, who has since lost his medical licence, to determine whether the product was safe.
- The sleeper's design, which involved holding babies at a 30-degree reclined angle, was tested without clinical research trials.
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A Fisher-Price sleeper for babies called the Rock 'n Play was recalled last month following a slate of infant deaths.
It was reportedly designed without medical safety tests and, rather than seeking pediatrician consultations, relied on just a single doctor to determine whether the product was safe, according to a report from The Washington Post.
Since 2009, Fisher-Price sold 4.7 million Rock 'n Play Sleepers, the newspaper reported, before being recalled after more than 30 babies died in the product.
The Texas family physician who Fisher-Price consulted with for the sleepers, Gary Deegear, has since lost his medical licence.
Fisher-price didn't hire other pediatricians to evaluate the product until years after it was already on the market, as the company faced a product liability lawsuit, according to records reviewed by the Post.
The design was not based on medical recommendations about infant sleep
The sleeper's design, which involved holding babies at a 30-degree reclined angle, was tested without clinical research trials, the Post reported.
The industrial designer who sketched the first design based it on advice she said her son's pediatrician gave her years before, according to a deposition the Post reviewed. The problem was that that advice contradicted American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on safe practices for infant sleep.
Rachel Moon, a pediatrician at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, told the Post the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "flat and firm" sleep surfaces, adding that "inclines can cause a problem because young infants have poor head control and can easily get into positions in which their airway is compromised."
In an open letter before the item was recalled, Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician from Missouri, wrote that the "design features of this product are known to increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)."
"I am concerned that infants in the 'sleeper' may be at risk of asphyxiation or suffocation if continued to be used as a place for overnight, unobserved infant sleep," she wrote.
Mattel, which owns Fisher-Price, told the Post in a statement that "Safety is priority number 1 for Fisher-Price."
The company "has a long, proud tradition of prioritizing safety as our mission. We at Fisher-Price want parents around the world to know that we have every intention of continuing that tradition."
Mattel declined to comment further when contacted.
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