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Combo Car Seat/Carriers Recalled

Evenflo Joyrides pose flip-out risk

TUESDAY, May 1 (HealthScout) -- The government announced today the recall of roughly 3.4 million combination car seat/baby carriers linked to at least 240 incidents and nearly 100 injuries, some serious.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) say the carrying handle on Evenflo Co.'s Joyride may release unexpectedly and spill a baby forward and onto the ground. Officials say 97 infants have suffered a range of injuries related to the defect, including bruising, concussions and leg and skull fractures.

The injuries have occurred in children who weren't strapped into the seats, as well as those who were restrained.

Evenflo, of Vandalia, Ohio, says it has engineered a fix, which parents can obtain for free, that it claims will correct the problem. The company has not sold the Joyride since 1998, but some parents may be using the products as hand-me-downs.

Brian Bloom, an Evenflo spokesman, says the company received about 40 reports of problems with the carrier between 1988 and 1998, when the model was discontinued. Recalls of similar carriers from other manufacturers promoted additional reports from parents, Bloom says, bringing the total to 240. The problem appears to be particularly likely in seats that have been heavily used, he adds.

But Evenflo's new carrier, the On My Way, has had similar trouble. In 1998 the company recalled about 800,000 of the car seats/carriers after they were determined to pose a flip-out threat. That defect was linked to 176 reports of unexpected latch releases in which 89 children were injured.

New standard set

Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the CPSC, says the "severity of the injuries were definitely a concern" for the agency in the latest investigation and with other carrier recalls.

Since March 1998, there have been five recalls of the combo car seats, including the two by Evenflo, covering some 10 million carriers, says Wolfson. The agency has learned of approximately 450 injuries to babies as a result of the defects, he says.

A new standard for car seat/carriers went into effect last February which safety officials believe has corrected the sudden-release problem, Wolfson says. That standard "ensured that there is more effective testing of the weight and repetitive use of a car seat/carrier lock and handle that could effectively sustain repeated locking and movement."

In the few months since the standard went into effect the agency has received no reports of flipping problems with the dual-use products, says Wolfson. CPSC now plans to look into whether Evenflo took quick enough steps to report the defect in its Joyride carriers.

The handle defect doesn't undermine the safety of the car seat, says Tim Hurd, an NHTSA spokesman. "It works fine as a child seat in the car," he says.

What To Do

If you own a Joyride, contact Evenflo toll free at (800) 557-3178 or visit their Web site for information about how to obtain a repair kit. Meanwhile, Bloom says, parents can feel confident using the seat in the car, and can carry babies around in it by holding onto the handles at the head and foot of the basket.

Another word of advice: "You shouldn't buy any car seat second hand, because you don't know what its status is or whether it's been in an accident," Bloom says.

To catch up on car-seat specific safety issues, try National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

SOURCES: Interviews with Scott Wolfson, spokesman, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C.; Brian Bloom, Evenflo spokesman, Vandalia, Ohio; and Tim Hurd, spokesman, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, D.C.; Consumer Product Safety Commission press release
Consumer News