Page last updated at 18:35 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Row over pushchair safety risks


Debbie Bird from Babyworld demonstrates how to fold a buggy

A consumer group has called for UK parents to receive the same protection as those in the US, amid fears of amputation risks from a pushchair.

Owners of one million Maclaren pushchairs in the US have been told to stop using them after a dozen children had their fingers amputated in a hinge.

They are being sent a safety kit, but UK owners of identical models will only get extra guidance on their use.

The consumers' association Which? said UK consumers should also be sent kits.


The amputations happened when children placed their finger in the hinge while the pushchair, or stroller, was being unfolded.

There are a lower number of similar reported incidents among the considerably higher number of Maclaren buggies sold in Europe

The models involved in the safety alert include Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, Techno XLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveller - including single and double umbrella pushchairs.

Patty Davis of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said the organisation had received a total of 15 reports of injuries to children's fingers. Twelve of those had resulted in the amputation of fingertips.

The company said that there had not been the same level of concern in the UK and Europe. After discussion with trading standards officers, no safety kits will be sent out in the UK.

Incidents 'unreported'

"There are a lower number of similar reported incidents among the considerably higher number of Maclaren buggies sold in Europe annually relative to the US market," said a spokesman for Maclaren Europe.

But one reader of the BBC News website said that her grandson had his little finger injured, but parents might have thought that such an incident was simply an accident and not reported it.

Lara Bond: "I think there are a lot of children out there that could get hurt"

And Lara Bond, a teacher from London, said her child was injured.

"My daughter lost her finger tip in a folding Maclaren Volo last year, when she was four. It had to be re-attached, but has left a scar. I did not report it at the time, but think now I should have," she told the BBC.

"I took the pushchair to the tip the week afterwards. In an ideal world, you get your pushchair folded up and unfolded when your children are not there, but in the real world, children push and shove and are impatient."

And Which? said that, although one of the Maclaren models was awarded its best buy status in February 2008, there should be the same level of protection in the UK as the US.

"Consumers in the US are being offered a free safety kit to add to their Maclaren pushchair and we think that British consumers should be offered the same protection," said Jenny Driscoll of Which?

"Maclaren has said that it will be placing additional warning labels on buggies to alert parents to potential dangers. We would like to see all manufacturers that produce pushchairs that use an umbrella folding mechanism to adopt this practice."


Northamptonshire Trading Standards officials were consulted about the pushchair and said that Maclaren models complied with safety rules.

Maclaren pushchair
One of the Maclaren pushchairs being highlighted in the US

"Because the pushchairs conform to EU regulations and there has only been one reported injury involving a Maclaren pushchair in the UK, we advised them that a recall in this country or EU was not a legal requirement," said David Hedger, interim head of trading standards at the local authority.

"Any decision to voluntarily take action in relation to such products would have to be made by Maclaren as we have no power to recall a product that conforms to safety standards.

"This issue acts as a timely reminder to parents to take extra care when putting up any children's equipment that has a folding mechanism."

The free repair kit in the US provides hinge covers for each side of the pushchair, which would restrict access to the hinges.

In the UK, the company said it had updated its operating instructions and placed a warning label on the buggy, to ensure that customers took care and kept children away from the buggy when it was being folded or unfolded.

"Our advice is that consumers should 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."

A spokesman for Mothercare said: "To ensure our customers have all the information available on this subject, we are providing in stores and online the guidelines Maclaren have issued for the safe folding of all their buggies."

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The Independent Transatlantic buggy wars - 11 hrs ago
Financial TimesHow not to take care of a brand - 16 hrs ago
Times Online Over 30,000 children a year crush their fingers in doors and we still use them - 20 hrs ago Canadians can receive Maclaren stroller repair kit - 22 hrs ago
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