Doctors Call for Ban on Dangerous Infant Walkers

Hospital emergency room doctors in Maine and throughout the country are once again seeking a ban on infant walkers, saying that as an “inherently dangerous object” these walkers have no benefits to young children and should never be sold in the U.S. Spurring this renewed call is a new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics, revealing that 2,000 babies and toddlers every year are treated at hospital emergency rooms in infant walker accidents – often with serious and life-altering injuries like skull fractures, broken bones and concussions. Between 1990 and 2014, there were reportedly more than 230,000 injurious infant walker accidents among children under 15 months who were treated in hospital emergency departments.

As Bangor child injury attorneys may note, these types of cases would be based on the laws of product liability. Depending on the circumstances, one could allege defect in design, manufacturing and/or marketing/breach of warranty. When products are sold in the U.S., consumers are given an implied and often express assurance that they are safe when used as intended. This is especially true for products used by infants and children. Maine Title 14 S221, state law on defective or unreasonably dangerous goods, states that anyone who sells goods or products in defective condition or that are unreasonably dangerous to the user can be held liable for resulting injuries. Defendants can include the manufacturer, seller or supplier.

In instances wherein products prove unsafe, resulting in injury, it’s important to discuss legal options with an attorney or law firm with experience in handling Maine product liability lawsuits. Breach of express or implied warranty is often the grounds on which product liability plaintiffs present their case. Depending on where the incident occurred and who was caring for the child, there may also be claims of premises liability and negligent supervision (for example, against a daycare). Accountability is important for parents of young children injured in these preventable incidents. 

This is not the first time pediatricians have sought to ban infant walkers, as reported by Maine Public. Back in 1991, a study published in the Archives of Emergency Medicine noted that baby walkers were associated with burns, head trauma and numerous other kinds of injury. It was the following year that pediatricians and consumer groups joined forces to call for a total ban and launched public education campaigns to warn parents against using them and demand manufacturers voluntarily improve their safety standards.

The good news is child injuries stemming from baby walker accidents DID decline – from 21,000 reported in 1990 to 3,200 in 2003. The Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2010 further strengthened safety standards and manufacturer testing on such walkers. Infant injuries continued to decline by 23 percent thereafter. But these walkers are still not banned and some 2,000 children in Maine and elsewhere throughout the country continue to suffer severe injury each year.

Said one physician researcher, “There’s absolutely no reason these products should still be on the market.” Canada has already banned the manufacture, sale and import of infant walkers since 2004.

Doctors say they have seen numerous cases of children severely injured after landing head-first on a concrete floor after falling down a flight of stairs while strapped into an infant walker. These products are especially dangerous, doctors say, because parents use them as a “babysitter” so that they can focus on other tasks. But that means babies who normally can’t walk are able to access places they otherwise could not: stairways, bathtubs, kitchens and pools. Some have suffered severe burns pulling boiling food off the stove. Others have drowned in pools. A baby strapped to an infant walker can reportedly travel as fast as four feet in one second. That’s faster than their parents can move.

Stationary activity centers, doctors say, are a much safer alternative.

If  you are dealing with a child injury that may have resulted from a defective product, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

As Injuries Continue, Doctors Renew Call For Ban On Infant Walkers, Sept. 17, 2018, Maine Public

More Blog Entries:

Misdiagnosis Leading to Maine Girl’s Paralysis Results in $1.9M Settlement, Aug. 1, 2017, Bangor Child Injury Attorney Blog


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