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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 April, 2004, 00:10 GMT 01:10 UK
Baby walkers outlawed in Canada
Baby walker
Baby walkers are designed for infants who can sit up, but not yet walk
Canada has become the first country in the world to ban the sale, advertising and import of baby walkers.

"Canadians must know about the dangers posed to infants through the use of baby walkers," said Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew.

A voluntary ban on the walkers - essentially baby chairs with wheels - has existed since 1989, but continuing injuries prompted the outright ban.

The most common accident occurs when babies fall down stairs.

There have also been reports of infants being able to reach dangerous objects that would otherwise have been out of their reach, said the minister.

Distance and speed

Baby walkers are designed for infants who are able to sit up but not yet able to walk.

They enable them to propel themselves around using their legs.

But baby walkers also allow babies to travel distances and at speeds their parents may not be accustomed to.

Babies have been injured and killed falling down stairs, and even falling into swimming pools.

Between 1990 and 2002, the ministry said, there were 1,935 reports of infants being injured using the walkers.

The health ministry said it had determined that young children "do not have the necessary skills, reflexes or cognitive abilities to safely make use of these products".

Though many companies have adhered to a voluntary ban on walkers, said the ministry, it had become apparent that walkers were still being sold at garage sales, online and by street vendors.

Safety inspectors would work with first-time offenders found in possession of baby walkers to dispose of them, a ministry spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

Repeat offences could be punished with a fine or seizure of the walkers, the spokeswoman said.


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Canada
12 Dec 03  |  Country profiles


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