A local mom says a popular baby product designed to help rock your infant to sleep may have left her son with life-long respiratory issues. Fisher Price sold about 800,000 Newborn Rock 'N Play Sleepers. The company issued a recall notice to parents last year, but some say the warning may have come too late.
At 20 months old, Jaime seems healthy now, but his mom worries a bout with pneumonia when he was a newborn may have set him up for a lifetime of respiratory issues like asthma. She blames the Fisher Price Newborn Rock 'N Play Sleeper where little Jaime slept almost from day one.
"About a month and a half, two months into it, he started getting the congestion, coughing," said his mother, Yesi Estrada.
Doctors diagnosed Jaime with pneumonia, but Estrada says her son didn't improve even with prescription drugs and treatments. It wasn't until she saw a recall notice on the news about six months later that she took her son out of the rocker and called Fisher Price.
"They told me to clean it," said Estrada. "To take it apart and clean it with bleach."
The instructions conflicted with the directions printed on the tag attached to the product. It reads: "Do not use bleach."
Before seeing the recall, Estrada had noticed small black spots under the padding in the sleeper, but each time she wiped them away, she said they came back.
"I thought it was just maybe a little dirt accumulated under there," Estrada said. "I would always wonder you know, how it would get in there, but I never thought it was mold."
Fisher Price received 600 reports of mold on the product. Sixteen consumers reported that their infants were treated for respiratory issues, coughs and hives after sleeping in the Rock 'n Play Sleeper.
"This specific product betrayed the trust, I think, of a lot of families who believed that the instructions were correct as to how to clean it," said attorney Beatriz Sosa-Morris. "'Do not use bleach,' and now that there's been a recall on the instructions, they say specifically "Do use bleach.'"
Sosa-Morris is representing Estrada. She says parents have to be an advocate for their children and not wait for companies or regulators to step up.
"Speak up," urged Sosa-Morris. "If you are family and you feel a product is being harmful to your child, speak up. Contact somebody and voice your concerns."
Fisher Price has since made a design change to make the product easier to clean. If you purchased yours before January 2013, you should check under the removable seat cushion for mold. If you see any, call Fisher Price at (800) 432-5437 from 9a.m. to 6p.m. Monday through Friday or online at www.service.mattel.com for more information.
Fisher Price spokesperson Juliette Reashor emailed Local 2 the following statement:
"We take pride in every product we bring to market and we strive to help consumers whenever they have a question or concern about one of them. The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper continues to be a popular item and, when we issued the Recall to Inspect notice in Jan. 2013 in conjunction with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it was to encourage consumers to inspect their products so they can continue to enjoy their use.
We want to clarify that mildew is not present on the product when purchased, but, as with other baby products, it can develop after use if the product is not kept clean and dry. To date, fewer than 1 percent of consumers who own the Sleeper have contacted us to report mildew growth on it. While the initial design of the product made it easy to clean, we nonetheless made a modest change to make even easier for consumers to clean.
Mildew spores are present everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. The available data show that everyday activities like vacuuming a room or taking a baby outside expose a baby to far greater concentrations of mildew than the common household mildew that has reportedly grown on fewer than 1 percent of the Rock ‘n Play Sleepers sold.
If consumers have questions about their Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, they should contact the Fisher-Price consumer services team by visiting service.mattel.com or calling 800.432.5437 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET and we'll be happy to help."