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Feds Ending Manufacture of Drop-Side Cribs

The federal government has issued a strong and renewed warning about drop-side cribs which, it says, can be dangerous or even deadly for babies.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says, over the past 10 years at least 32 children have died in drop-side cribs. They may also be the cause of an additional 14 deaths. Hundreds more have been injured.

Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the CPSC, told CBS News, "We have determined that it is time now to stop the manufacture of drop-side cribs."

"Early Show" Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen first broke the news of the largest crib recall in U.S. history. She appeared on the broadcast Monday with more on what the government is doing now about these cribs.

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Koeppen reported that, over the last five years, there have been 11 recalls involving more than seven million cribs with drop-sides. The problem: The side rail can malfunction and create a space big enough for a child to strangle in.

And there's an effort now to make sure these types of cribs are off the market for good.

Koeppen shared the story of Michelle Witte, who never imagined the crib of her baby, Tyler, could be dangerous, let alone deadly.

Witte said, "That's every parents safe haven for their child, and to see the horrific sight of him strangled was just horrifying to me."

The 10-month-old was sleeping in a crib with a drop-down side, when his head got stuck in a gap between the side rail and the headboard.

Witte said, "I just immediately fell to my knees and started screaming."

Now the CPSC says it's taking aggressive action to rid the U.S. marketplace and American homes of these types of cribs.

Tenenbaum said, "I've promised to parents of America that we will have a new standard this year."

Of the 500,000 cribs sold in the U.S. in 2008, 100,000 had drop-sides. The problem with these cribs is the side rail, which moves up and down. Over time it can detach from the crib creating a space big enough for an infant to become trapped and suffocate.

Don Mays, senior director of product safety at Consumer Reports, said, "It's taken the government far too long to update their regulations on cribs. They need to write a regulation that's going to protect children in the future."

Major crib manufacturers have already agreed to a voluntary ban on drop-side cribs, Koeppen said. Some retailers, such as Toys 'R' Us, no longer sell them.

However, the federal ban, Koeppen observed, will be far-reaching, removing drop side cribs from stores, hotels and day care centers.

Witte, whose son died in drop-side crib, said, "We cannot have a crib that takes the lives of infants out there on the market."

On "The Early Show," Koeppen reminded viewers if they have a crib with a drop-side, they need to make sure it hasn't been recalled.

"You should check your crib very carefully," she said. "Stop using it if it's been recalled or if it has loose or missing parts."

She added the CPSC says it will continue to investigate drop side cribs still on the market.

Koeppen explained in a drop-side crib, the side rail detaches because the hardware breaks, it's plastic, and child slips through and suffocates.

She said some children have died in drop-side cribs where parents have tried to fix the side rail and the fix failed. Additionally, she said a lot of cribs are passed down.

Koeppen said, "The older the crib is the more prone it is to breaking, the wear and tear on putting the side rail up and down is too much."

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