Baby walkers

Baby Walkers

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Press release

18 October 2010, Baby walkers: new joint position statement illuminates continued risks

The European Child Safety Alliance and ANEC, the European Consumer Voice in Standardization, have released a joint position statement and background paper about the risk of injuries to young children caused by baby walkers. The position statement is endorsed and supported by ECSA and ANEC country partners, representing expert organizations from over 30 EU countries coming together to state concern about the risk of severe injuries caused by this unnecessary product.

In many European countries, baby walkers are linked to more injuries than any other type of nursery equipment, causing an unacceptably high number of severe falls, burns and scalds and poisonings. European data shows that 90% of baby walker injuries are to the head, with over 30% causing brain injury.

Unfortunately most parents believe that the baby walker is a safe place to leave a child or they believe that this product will help a child learn to walk. Sadly, neither is true. Baby walkers may interfere with a child's ability to learn to walk while increasing the risk of injuries. The majority of these injuries are caused by falls, especially down stairs. The second largest risk is burns and scalds caused by the baby reaching dangerous items that were previously beyond reach (such as kettles or heaters). It is most often the face and chest area where children suffer burns and scalds while in baby walkers, leaving the scars for a lifetime.

Due to the fact that baby walkers are neither a walking aid nor an essential nursery product, and as their use can lead to hazardous situations, the European country partners of ECSA and ANEC do not promote their use.

Joanne Vincenten, Director of the European Child Safety Alliance, said, " it is tragic that this unnecessary product has been related to so many devastating injuries to children in countries all over Europe and the world. We urge health care providers to educate parents about the risks, and to promote the many safer alternatives, such as stationary baby activity centres."

Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary-General, said "we would agree if the European Commission were to propose a total ban of the product, however, as long as baby walkers are still for sale on the European market, parents should make sure that safety barriers are installed in the house to prevent falls down stairs and access to dangerous places like e.g. the kitchen. In addition to that, awareness campaigns about the risks are necessary, as well as enforcement activities to make sure that baby walkers available on the European market are complying with the European standard EN 1273:2005.

We welcome the ongoing joint market surveillance action being conducted by ProSafe, and hope that the results will be acted upon."

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