A coalition of consumer groups is asking the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall the Bumbo Baby Seat -- a popular device used to help babies sit up before they otherwise would be able to. The product has been associated with numerous injuries to infants after they fell from the seats.
The CPSC has acknowledged safety issues with the product, with an unusual warning in November of the risks associated with the product. Safety advocates have been after the CPSC to do more, but the agency mainly relies on a negotiated, and therefore cooperative path with companies, something that isn't always that simple and has delayed any action since a 2007 recall of the product. Meanwhile, lawsuits against the South African company that makes the seat continue.
The initial issue with the product was how it was being used. Product images suggested it was OK to put the seats on elevated surfaces, such as tables. The recall corrected that with a warning that the seats should only be used at ground level and a note that the seat, which has no safety belt, is not restrictive.
The CPSC has said, however, that injuries to babies using the seat have continued -- even when it was used as directed.
"Because serious injuries are occurring when this product is used as intended, and since these injuries involve an alarming number of skull fractures we have grave concerns about the safety of Bumbo Internationalâ€™s Baby Seat," the consumer groups wrote to the CPSC. "Unlike other products intended for the same age range such as bouncers and stationary activity centers, there are no safety standards or testing requirements covering this type of product. In addition, manufacturers of similar products have made design changes to address the safety concerns associated with these types of productsâ€“ a step Bumbo International has refused to take to date."
The letter is signed by the following groups: U.S. PIRG, Kids in Danger, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and Public Citizen.
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Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com