Health Canada says it will hold public consultations on drop-side cribs this fall to determine whether to proceed with a proposed ban on their sale and import.
The announcement comes as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to ban drop-side cribs — meaning they may not be resold or used in hotels or daycare centres — due to safety concerns. The commission said Wednesday it is working to finalize the proposed mandatory crib standards in 2010.
"A crib should be the safest place for an infant or toddler to sleep," said CPSC chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "For too long, and for too many young children, this has not been the case."
Drop-side cribs are popular with parents because they allow one side of a crib to open fully so infants can be easily placed in or taken out of a crib.
However, the number of moving parts associated with the drop-side design make the cribs vulnerable to structural damage.
According to the CPSC, 36 infants died in the U.S. as a result of structural crib damage between November 2007 and April of this year.
"Thirty-five of those fatalities occurred when the crib components detached, disengaged or broke, ending in an entirely avoidable tragedy," said Tenenbaum.
According to CPSC commissioners, the new rules will result in tougher safety standards for all cribs sold in the U.S., not just drop-sides.
'Every family and daycare centre in the near future will be forced to purchase a brand-new crib.' —Anne Northup, Consumer Product Safety Commission
"The commission's mandatory standard this year will make every crib in this country obsolete and unable to be sold," said commissioner Anne Northup.
"Every family and daycare centre in the near future will be forced to purchase a brand-new crib," she said.
The move comes just three weeks after two million drop-side cribs in the U.S. and 24,000 in Canada were recalled.
Earlier this week, Health Canada recalled nearly 1,000 drop-side cribs sold at Pottery Barn Kids outlets across the country.
As with previous recalls, the hardware that operates the drop-side mechanism can break or become damaged, causing the side of the crib to detach.
Throughout North America, there have been seven injuries related to faulty drop-sides in Pottery Barn cribs.
Health Canada has worked jointly with the CPSC on several recalls of drop-side cribs, including the latest by Pottery Barn Kids.
The agency's public notice issued Wednesday says Health Canada is participating in discussions with Canadian and U.S. manufacturers, safety advocates and officials on the safety of all cribs, including drop-sides.
The public consultations to begin in September will focus on a proposal to prohibit "the future sale, advertisement and importation of drop-side cribs in Canada," according to the notice.
The department is also asking for public input on the overall safety of cribs, including drop-sides, and wants to know if Canadians agree with a proposed ban on the future sale and importation of drop-side cribs.
According to the health agency, Canada's crib regulations are already among the strictest in the world.
Health Canada also says it will "continue to monitor the marketplace to keep children safe."