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Gillibrand urges stores to stop selling inclined infant sleepers

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Sunday called on retailers to pull inclined infant sleepers from their shelves after an "alarming" recent study of more than a dozen such products found that none were safe. More than 70 babies have died while sleeping on the inclined seats, pillows, rockers and similar products, which can make infants more likely to turn their heads or roll over and cause them to suffocate, Gillibrand said. (Credit: Kendall Rodriguez)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Sunday called on retailers to pull inclined infant sleepers from their shelves after an "alarming" recent study of more than a dozen such products found that none were safe.

More than 70 babies have died while sleeping on the inclined seats, pillows, rockers and similar products, which can make infants more likely to turn their heads or roll over and cause them to suffocate, Gillibrand said.

While a number of manufacturers have recalled the products in recent months, they remain popular in private homes and day care centers alike, with many more still on the market, she said.

"Caring for our children falls to all of us," she said at a news conference in Manhattan. "Retailers have the opportunity to be good actors and to help prevent more infant deaths from these sleepers."

In a report released this month by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, researchers studied 14 different inclined sleepers and found that none were safe for use. Based on the findings, the commission recommended that any sleepers with inclines greater than 10 degrees effectively be banned.

Gillibrand praised the development, but said such a ban may take months to enact. She called on retailers to take action now.

"We simply cannot put more babies, more families at risk," she said.

The inclined sleepers are just one product that could imperil sleeping infants, officials said at the news conference.

Eric Brettschneider, first deputy commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children's Services, said "more than 40 babies across the city die every year as a result of unsafe sleep practices."

Jessica Maldonado, of Brooklyn, was the parent of one such child, she said at the news conference Sunday. She said her infant son died 19 years ago after falling asleep in a stroller.

"As a new parent, we want to trust something we buy in stores for our babies is safe," she said. "Had I known the risk associated with unsafe sleep practices and products, I probably would be watching my son put on his cap and gown this year."

Brettschneider said parents can avoid such risks by ensuring that babies sleep alone, on their backs and on flat surfaces.

Gillibrand said she is co-sponsoring legislation that would ban the manufacture, import or sale of inclined sleepers.

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