Category Archives: News in Child Safety

Pacifiers from China Recalled Due to Choking Hazard!

Posted by Marianne Frederick

Since readers can now access the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recalls on our site (see the CPSC recall link on the right), we don’t write as much about recalls as we have in the past.

However, this is one product with which we can and should take issue: On August 23, 2012,  119,000 CareBears Pacifiers, made in China and imported to the U.S., were recalled due to a choking hazard. They were sold from 2009 through 2012 for one dollar — and because they were so cute and cheap, a lot were sold — and now they are in babies’ mouthes.

Most parents know what a pacifier is. It goes in a baby’s mouth–helps baby to be quiet and calm, and helps mom, dad or both to retain their sanity. But pacifiers need to be safe (as well as clean), because they go in baby’s mouth. Pretty simple, right?

I am pretty sure that many parents, as well as retailers, have had it to the yin-yang with un-safe children’s (and adults’) products manufactured in China and imported to the U.S. Children’s products failing or causing harm is scarier somehow–adults are more often able to figure out what is safe and what is not, hopefully. Young children can’t and don’t complain–as long as a toy is shiny or colorful–but by the time a cadmium-covered stuffed animal or a faulty pool slide has hurt a child, the damage is done and it may even be too late for a child to recover.

Once again it is left to parents to be the safe guardians of their children, and this is one more impassioned plea to parents: Really look at the toys and products–in this case, pacifiers–that you purchase for your children! If a toy looks unsafe, don’t buy it. If you think a toy or product could possibly come apart and it has small parts that could detach, don’t buy the product–whether it’s made in China, Timbuktu or Pittsburgh. This is the message we, as parents and consumers, need to yell from the rooftops to the manufacturers and sellers of unsafe products for children! Perhaps there should be stiffer penalties for selling faulty or dangerous items.

As sensible adults, we still have some choices. Buying safer toys and reliable products for kids usually has a better, safer outcome; and more than anything, we want our children to be safe.

Warning for Parents Giving Codeine to Young Children!

Posted by Marianne Frederick

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an urgent warning to parents whose children have been prescribed codeine, an opioid pain reliever, for pain following surgery, saying parents should look for obvious and serious side effects.

Three young children between the ages of two and five years old recently died after having operations for tonsils and adenoid removal (T&A) and then receiving codeine for pain.

According to the FDA, some children “may be at risk of developing serious side effects, or even dying, after being given codeine in amounts that are within the recommended dose range.”

These children are known as “ultra rapid metabolizers” and have livers that are able to convert codeine to morphine in unusually high proportions. High levels of morphine in a child’s bloodstream can result in difficulty breathing which could cause death.

Physicians can order genetic tests to be performed to learn whether children are ultra rapid metabolizers prior to surgery. Also, parents can check with their pediatricians and request medication other than codeine for pain for their children.

Parents should look for the following warning signs if their children have been prescribed and are being given codeine following surgery:

  • Unusual sleepiness, difficulty in waking them up;
  • Disorientation or confusion;
  • Labored or noisy breathing;
  • Blue coloration of the lips or around the mouth.

If any of these symptoms are observed, call 911 immediately (and tell the 911 operator that the child has been given codeine) or take your child to the closest emergency room as soon as possible!

How Parents Can Help Prevent Food Poisoning in Children

Posted by Marianne Frederick

Children are among those who are affected in the most serious ways by food poisoning. Young children are small, growing, and usually active. Anything that can dehydrate them or rob their bodies of the nutrients that promote growth and health is not good. One out of six people is affected by food-borne illnesses annually in the U.S. Many people are hospitalized  each year and some actually die from food-borne illnesses. There are a variety of disease-causing microbes, or pathogens, which can contaminate foods, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us, so there are many different food-borne infections.

When people say they have had the “stomach flu” or the “24-hour flu,” it frequently turns out to have been a food-borne illness. Common symptoms in many food-borne illnesses occur in children (and adults), such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The microbes causing food-borne illnesses, such as e.coli, for instance, can be transmitted in different ways–through contaminated food or contaminated drinking water, through contaminated swimming water, even from toddler-to-toddler in a daycare facility. There are different kinds of control efforts — from chlorinating a swimming pool to boiling drinking water, to sanitizing and even closing facilities temporarily where children gather — that can help curb the effects of food-borne pathogens.

Salmonella is one of the top five pathogens that transmit food-borne illnesses domescially, sending people to the hospital and even causing death. In the past two months, cantaloupes contaminated by Salmonella that were grown in Indiana have made the news. announced the cantaloupe recall from markets throughout the U.S. Salmonella can also spread to humans in different foods of animal origin. The illness it causes,salmonellosis, can involve fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps and can last from 4 to 7 days. Since children are the most likely to get salmonellosis and the rate of diagnosed infections in children under five years old is higher than the rate in all other persons, what can parents do to prevent salmonellosis’ severe infections in young children?

  • Cook poultry, meat and eggs thoroughly;
  • Do not eat (or drink) or give your child raw eggs or unpasteurized milk to drink;
  • Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces and utensils after any contact with raw meat, poultry or eggs;
  • Be especially careful when preparing food for infants and young children;
  • Wash hands immediately after contact with pets, pet feces, or “zoo” animals (reptiles, snakes, birds, chicks, etc.);
  • This last one may surprise you (it did me): Do not work with an infant and raw food at the same time! This means especially do not change the diaper of a child while you are working with food! (According to the CDC website, this can and does happen. So please put the food down, wash your hands, tend to your baby, then wash your hands again before you work with food again.
  • Wash your hands and your baby’s hands frequently.

Children Should Not be Left in Hot Cars – Look Before you Lock!

Posted by Marianne Frederick

Recently, we learned from child safety colleague, Janette Fennell of Kids and, the sad news that within a 6-day period this summer 8 children in 4 different states died because they had been left in parked vehicles whose interiors overheated. This isn’t the kind of piece wants to write today or any day. The deaths of these children were preventable and the sorrow these families are experiencing does not eclipse the fact that parents, relatives and caregivers are frequently unwittingly the last location for the safety of their children. These children died in their parents’ or grand-parents’ vehicles, in a daycare van, after being left in a vehicle in a daycare parking lot and after being left in a parent’s minivan.

National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSA) administrator David Strickland says the NHTSA is “working… to educate the public about heatstroke and bring an end to these tragedies.” Sadly, somehow the cautions about heatstroke and the danger of asphyxiation to young children in hot cars are apparently not getting to the people who need to know, or these cautions are not being taken seriously. And we are left asking why these tragedies have happened and what can we do now?

What we can do is, “If you see something, say something!” Don’t be shy about telling the manager of a store if you see a parent has gone into a store…even “only for a minute”… and left young children alone in a car. Tell the manager as soon as possible! Often managers are able to make an announcement on a PA system. Yes, take the license number of the car–Call 911 if you have to, and wait until the police arrive.

If you see a parent going into a store alone–and you are aware they have brought children with them, ask, “Did you bring your children/child? Are they in the car with (a caregiver, parent, relatives) someone? Are the windows rolled down?” Last week, I parked next to an older vehicle in which there was an approximately 10-year old child alone. The windows were rolled up. It was hot. As I got out of my car, the parent came out of the store. The look on my face must have stung–I didn’t have the chance to speak, when she said, “Well, I left the car running and the air conditioning on!” She climbed in the car and drove off. I thought, what if the car ran out of gas or the engine had quit running or fumes from the older car’s exhaust had overcome the child? This particular child had a physical handicap and could not have opened the window herself.

Kids and recommends this Look Before You Lock check-list of cautions you can tape to your dashboard and check every time you drive any child anywhere:

Back seat – Place a toy or something else you need (a purse?) in the back seat, so that you have to open the vehicle door when leaving the vehicle–it will remind you to check the back seat for a child or children

Each child passenger should be properly restrained in the back seat of the vehicle

Stuffed animal–Place a stuffed animal in the front seat, to remind you they are with you

Ask a caregiver or childcare provider to call you within 10 minutes if your child has not arrived at their destination or daycare on time

Focus on driving–Distracted driving is a major cause of car crashes

Every time you park your vehicle, open the back door to make sure no one in the car has been left behind!

Whooping Cough Update: Cause for Concern!

Posted by Marianne Frederick

Recent news reports indicate that outbreaks of Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are occurring more frequently than in past years. Pertussis is an extremely contagious disease spread by the Bordetella bacterium. Characterized by bouts of uncontrollable coughing, a “whooping” sound is made when a child or adult tries to inhale. Initial symptoms can be similar to those of a cold, runny nose, congestion, fever and a mild cough, but the cough can become serious without treatment with antibiotics. Complications from the disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vary from pneumonia to permanent lung damage.

Parents need to know that whooping cough can be fatal to infants and young children–and, according to an Associated Press report, the disease has increased 72 percent in babies under 4 months of age since the 1990s. Outbreaks of pertussis have been reported in New Hampshire, Vermont, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Arizona, Wisconsin, Washington state and recently, in south Florida.

Pediatricians generally recommended children receive pertussis immunizations at 2, 4 and 6 months of age, but statistics compiled by the CDC show that during 2002-2003 only 83 percent of infants were vaccinated against pertussis, which may indicate that pre-school vaccination policies are not always followed, according to an ABC News article of July 14, 2012.

The CDC estimates that last year there were approximately 11,000 pertussis cases in the United States, representing an increase of 2,000 cases over the previous year. This year, 18,000 cases have been reported so far, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, and there is concern that the disease may reach epidemic proportions–not seen since an estimated 40,000 cases in 1959.

Because “Pertussis is the only vaccine-preventable disease that has not been completely controlled by routine childhood immunization,” physicians think that increased health and safety measures may need to be taken in order to control the disease. Health officials in some states are currently calling on adults, especially parents, pregnant women and others who spend a lot of time around children, to get a booster shot as soon as possible.

Look Before You Lock!

Posted by Marianne Frederick

In April 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a program called, “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” Knowing exactly where your young children are is always important, but now that the warmest season of the year is soon to be in full swing, it becomes even more important to check to make sure your child is not in the backseat as you are locking your car.

This public service campaign by the NHTSA aims to reduce the number of young children’s deaths from heatstroke and hyperthermia after having been left in vehicles which can become overheated quickly. During 2011, there were 33 deaths of young children in the U.S. from this type of hyperthermia, in 2010 there were 49–the majority of those deaths were of children under the age of 6 who had been left in vehicles whose interiors became overheated. All of the deaths were preventable. According to the NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash fatalities for children under the age of 14. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted, “It is [our] hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache.”

As part of the campaign, the NHTSA is releasing both radio and online advertisements focused on the theme “Where’s baby? Look before you lock.” In addition, the NHTSA is making a tool kit available at for parents and organizations to use in local campaigns on the issue. It’s important for parents and caregivers to remember that children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult. Heatstroke in kids left in cars can occur even when temperatures outside the vehicle are as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Cars heat up quickly!

The NHTSA recommends the following tips to help parents and caregivers prevent accidental heatstroke in very young children:

  • Never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle–even if the windows are partially open and/or the air conditioner is running;
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle front and back before walking away from the vehicle;
  • Request the child care provider call you as soon as they are aware if the child does not show up for scheduled daycare, nursery school or school as expected;
  • If you do not take your child to daycare and someone else does, have that person call you to confirm your baby arrived safely;
  • Place reminders to yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as a child’s backpack or lunch or stuffed toy–place the item in the front passenger seat so you are forced see it before exiting the car;
  • Never allow your car to be a play area for any young child in your care; and
  • Store your car keys up and out of a child’s reach!

Especially this summer, please remember to “Look Before You Lock!” and help keep kids safe!

Toys ‘R’ Us Recalls Imaginarium Activity Center

Toys ‘R’ Us rarely recalls toys as we have learned over the years, however, the CPSC and Toys ‘R’ Us are voluntarily recalling approximately 24,000 Imaginarium Activity Centers due to a choking hazard. The problem is the five-sided wooden Imaginarium Activity Center has small wooden knobs which attach xylophone keys to the activity center and can detach, causing a choking hazard to young children. The Imaginarium was manufactured in China and imported to the U.S. by Toys ‘R’ Us.

Fortunately, there have only been eight reports of the knobs detaching and no reports of injuries thus far. Consumers will find the model number 46284, the Toys ‘R’ Us item number 295909, and the barcode number000799985462841 printed on the box the Imaginarium came in, not on the product itself.

The Imaginarium Activity Center was sold throughout the nation at Toys “R” Us stores and online via from August 2009 through September 2010 for approximately $25.

Consumers are advised to completely remove this toy from children’s access and return it to Toys ‘R’ Us for a full refund or store credit. Consumers can contact Toys “R” Us on their toll-free number at 1(800) 869-7787 between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Saturday and between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, or visit the firm’s website at

To view a photo of the Imaginarium Activity Center, please visit CPSC’s website at:

Dorel Juvenile’s Safety First Products Get “Zinged” By Yet Another CPSC Recall

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Dorel Juvenile Group Inc. (DJG) of Columbus, Indiana, have announced a voluntary recall of Dorel’s Safety 1st Toilet and Cabinet Locks due to lock failure–as young “children can gain access to water and dangerous items.” Because young children are able to disengage the toilet locks, the lock failure poses the hazard of drowning; and children can also disengage the cabinet locks giving them access to possibly dangerous items thought to be locked in the cabinet. (900,000 of Dorel’s Safety 1st Push ‘N Snap cabinet locks were recalled due to lock failure in March 2012.)

DJG received more than 100 reports that the toilet locks were not effective and over 250 reports that the cabinet locks failed. There were also 71 reports of children under five years of age being able to disengage the cabinet locks–one incident report involved injury to a child from an object swallowed.

This recall involves 183,000 Safety 1st Surefit toilet locks (Models 48003 and 48103) and 685,000 Safety 1st cabinet slide locks (Models 12013 and 12014), manufactured in China and imported to the US by Dorel Juvenile Group. The toilet locks and cabinet locks were sold by Bed, Bath and Beyond, Burlington Coat Factory, Great Beginnings, Home Depot, Target and Walmart. The toilet locks were sold from January 2005 through April 2010 for from $8 to $20, and the cabinet locks were sold from January 2000 through March 2009, for from $2 to $11.

Consumers are advised to stop using both the toilet locks and the cabinet locks immediately and may contact DJG on their toll-free number 1(877) 416-8105 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at

To view photos of the toilet and cabinet locks being recalled, please visit the CPSC website at

Button Batteries Still Sending Kids to Emergency Rooms

With what we already know about button batteries, it is a big surprise that they continue to be so pervasive in the environment and continue to represent a serious health and safety hazard to young children. The presence of button batteries in home, school and play environments continues to hurt kids. Nancy Walsh in her article of May 14, 2012, for MedPage Today, says button batteries are still “posing increasing risk to young children with a near doubling of battery-related emergency room visits over the past two decades.”

Walsh pointed to the ratio of button battery-related trips to emergency rooms in 1990 was 4 per 100,000 people, in the following two decades the ratio increased to 7.4 trips per 100,000 people–according to a study performed by Gary A. Smith, MD, PhD, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and his colleagues, which examined data from a host of hospitals throughout the country. Astonishingly, for children under 5 years of age, the study found the rate increased from 10 trips per 100,000 to 19.1 trips per 100,000 (to be reported in the June issue of Pediatrics) due to button battery-related incidents. So, in nearly 20 years, the rate of button battery-related emergency room trips almost doubled (for the same size population).

The types of injuries and causes of fatal outcomes in children range from a swallowed button battery becoming lodged in a child’s esophagus, the battery’s contents perforating the esophagus, or the presence of the battery doing damage to the child’s larynx, vocal cords, and causing bleeding. An estimated more than 65,000 visits have been made to emergency rooms across the country during the past 20 years due to button battery-related incidents. More than 75 percent of the children were under five years of age–and approximately 66 percent were boys. The most common sources of the batteries were games, toys, remote control devices, watches and hearing aids.

Button batteries don’t just find their way into children’s mouths, but they turn up in their ears and noses too, emergency room staffs find. So parents need to be aware and keep items that contain button batteries locked up and out of reach. In a radiographic evaluation of a child who has swallowed a button battery, the flatter button battery will show a characteristic double-rim which might not be seen in the case of a child having swallowed a coin. Dr. Smith and the co-authors of this study advise parents to tape all battery compartments securely shut if you have battery- (and button battery-) powered items in your home. The authors of the study would also like to see manufacturers childproof anything with a battery or button battery in it. We couldn’t agree more!

Remember, if you think your child has swallowed a button battery, call the Poison Control Center immediately 1-800-222-1222!

URGENT: Retailers Agree to Stop Sale of Tots in Mind™ Crib and Play Yard Tents Due to Entrapment Strangulation, Brain Injuries and Infant Death

“How do these things ever get on the market if they are so dangerous?” worried parents ask. It is one of the worst experiences for parents when they learn a hazard is so serious that a piece of childhood furniture endangers the lives of their infants and young children. The CPSC is now urging parents to immediately stop using crib tents and play yard tents made by Tots in Mind, Inc. due to strangulation and entrapment hazards.

The CPSC has learned of 27 incidents of the crib and play yard tents failing and causing injuries to children and one death of a child that occurred between January 1997 and April 2012 from crib tents and play yard tents made by Tots in Mind, Inc. In 2008, a 2-year old boy became trapped between the bottom and top rails of a play yard tent and died. In 2007, a child sustained a traumatic brain injury when the crib tent inverted and trapped him at the neck. The additional 25 reports involved inverted crib tents and entrapment between the crib tent and the crib or play yards, three of which involved injuries to children.

The CPSC has issued an urgent voluntary recall and the retailers that sold the crib tents/play yards will provide a refund or a full store credit, depending upon from which retailer the crib tent/play yard was purchased. The company, Tots in Mind, Inc., had previously recalled the play yard tents in July 2010 and offered a repair kit at that time which is no longer available as the company is out of business. The CPSC strongly recommends that consumers not attempt to repair the crib and play yard tents.

The products were sold at a variety of retail stores, including Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy Baby, Burlington Coat Factory, Toys R Us/Babies R Us, Walmart, and online from websites including, for in the range of $60 to $85. Consumers should contact the store where the item was purchased to obtain a full refund or store credit. Contact information for the following stores offering a refund or store credit is listed below:

No model names or numbers are located on any of the tents; but the crib tents can be identified by the photos on the CPSC website and by the Tots in Mind logo on top of the tent. To view photos of the crib tents and play yard tents being recalled, please visit the CPSC website at: CPSC reminds all consumers that it is illegal to re-sell recalled products of any type.