Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Why no UK baby buggy recall?

Maclaren buggy
The recall will not be extended to the UK and the rest of Europe

British company Maclaren is recalling one million pushchairs in the US after 12 cases of children slicing off their fingertips in the hinges of certain collapsible buggies.

But why is no similar action taking place in the UK where the same models are on sale?

Maclaren has voluntarily launched a recall of all its single and double umbrella pushchairs in the US, including the popular Volo and Techno products.

There have been reports of 15 children catching their fingers in the buggies' hinge mechanisms, resulting in a dozen "fingertip amputations".

Such is the concern in the US that it has prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to warn parents to stop using the pushchairs with immediate effect.

Maclaren USA is making free hinge covers available to its customers in a bid to address the problem but these are not being offered to UK customers.

BBC business reporter Nick Cosgrove says the move is thought to be one of the most sweeping product recalls in history in the US.

The term "recall" has a different meaning in the US, and includes modifications that can be made by customers to improve products, rather than taking the product off the shelves.

Parents' concerns

The company said there had not been the same level of concern about the safety of the pushchairs in the UK and Europe.

Northamptonshire County Council's trading standards department, which covers the company's base, said the firm had only reported one similar case in the UK.

But the BBC has been contacted by a number of parents who claim their children lost the tips of their fingers when they put their hands in the hinge as the buggy was being folded or unfolded.

Sarah Dutton and son Daniel
Daniel Dutton is waiting to see if his operation has been successful

Some said they did not report it at the time as they assumed it was an accident.

Sarah Dutton's three-year-old son Daniel lost the tip of his finger on 30 October when he got his hand trapped as his stroller was being put up.

It was reattached at hospital, but the family will have to wait three to six weeks to find out whether it has been successful.

She said she had only heard about the recall in the US on Tuesday and would like the same safety kits made available in the UK.

"Up until now we have been treating it as an accident, but now we're concerned it could have been a preventable accident.

"Children do as children do, nothing can be totally accident-proof, but if it could have been a little bit safer, that would have been nice."

Teacher Lara Bond's daughter Jemima had her fingertip cut off when she jumped into a Maclaren Volo as it was being unfolded last year. The finger was reattached but she has been left with a scar.

Mrs Bond told the BBC: "She lost the pad on the top of her finger in the pushchair when it folded on her.

"I was unfolding the pushchair for her to get in and she and her brother, as children are, are impatient.

"They tried to get into the pushchair just before I got it down. It folded up and she caught the tip of her finger - luckily not the bone.

"It was very unpleasant. There was a lot of blood and a lot of screaming and she was in shock for a while.

"I took the pushchair to the tip the week after because I didn't feel very safe using it with her any more."

Maclaren refused to discuss whether it had received any further complaints but said it would look at any on a case-by-case basis.

'Keep in perspective'

Northamptonshire's trading standards chief David Hedger said: "This publicity may generate further issues coming to light and we will keep it under review.

"But as this is a matter of one incident in the UK and Maclaren have sold more than one million products in the country, it has to be kept in perspective."

A spokeswoman for Maclaren, which started making pushchairs in 1967, said she did not know the details of the incident reported to trading standards in the UK but was not aware of any serious injuries being caused by the firm's products.

In the UK the company is adding labels to its pushchairs warning parents to keep children away from the buggy when it is being folded or unfolded.

And the advice from the firm is to "take the same level of caution and care as when opening or closing a car door or any other moving part that can be found in many other baby and toddler products".

It said: "If a buggy is folded or unfolded in line with our operating instructions, the risk of injury is non-existent."

The firm is advising people to watch its safety video, which shows how to open and fold an umbrella-fold buggy safely.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: "This story should remind people of the need for care in putting them up and down and encourage children not to play with pushchairs."

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