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Graco stroller recall prompts federal review of all stroller safety

First it was the Maclaren stroller recall. Then, rival Graco announced this week it was recalling 1.5 million units.

First it was the Maclaren stroller recall. Then, rival Graco announced this week it was recalling 1.5 million units. Now, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says it is “looking at the entire product line,” of baby strollers “to see whether the standards are adequate to ensure the safety of children both inside and out of the stroller.”

Why it matters
The Graco stroller recall is America’s largest at 1.5 million affected units. Following after a 1 million stroller recall in Nov. 2009, the US government’s consumer watchdog is looking at stroller safety more broadly.

What that means is that parents should take a close look at their strollers, whether they’ve been recalled or not, says CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson. The commission is advising parents to check their strollers for the presence of a pinch point that might be dangerous to children.

It’s this pinching hazard that prompted November’s recall of 1 million Maclaren strollers and Wednesday’s recall of 1.5 million Graco Passage, Alano, and Spree strollers.

An investigation by consumer watchdog Consumer Reports found the danger posed by the Maclaren stroller was not uncommon among other, nonrecalled buggies. The Graco recall is, if anything, more worrisome, Mr. Wolfson says, because all seven injuries sustained in Graco strollers came when the child was seated inside the stroller, not standing alongside it as in several of the Maclaren cases.

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Protecting children outside the stroller may be out of a manufacturer’s control, says Dorothy Drago, head of Drago Expert Services, a consumer-products consulting firm with expertise in children’s products.

Exposure to the hinge
“With almost anything foldable, whether it’s a table or anything else, at some point somebody’s going to be exposed to that hinge,” Ms. Drago says. “In general, if you’ve protected the child inside the stroller from collapse or injury, you’ve met your major obligation.”

However, Wolfson says companies must anticipate “foreseeable use” of a product, an understanding that, given the large Maclaren and Graco recalls, might begin to include a wider swath of children’s behavior both in and out of the stroller.

“Companies must anticipate foreseeable use and that can include the behavior of a child and they must design away those hazards,” Wolfson says. “If the CPSC sees a pattern of reports to us of a child behavior leading to a succession of incidents, then we can take that sort of evidence to a company or to a standards-setting body as the grounds to enhance that standard.”