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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 01:03 GMT
Moses basket 'risk' to babies
Handles that do not meet could be dangerous
Handles that do not meet could be dangerous
Moses baskets are a potential health hazard for babies, doctors have warned.

The baskets have become popular in recent years as a convenient way of carrying young babies.

Within two months, staff at one north-west hospital saw three cases of babies who had fallen out of the baskets.

Two suffered fractured skulls.

Researchers from the hospital, writing in the British Medical Journal, said the problem with the baskets was that the handles were too short, and did not meet in the middle.


It really is common sense that you need to be careful

Dr Markus Hesseling, researcher
This means parents need to keep a tighter grip, and increases the risk of a problem if their grip relaxes.

The researchers said most incidents would not cause serious injury to the baby, but warned parents should be aware of the potential risk.

Standards

There are standards for the carrycots from the British Standards Institute but they do not cover length of handles, the researchers say.

But, after this study was completed, the British Baby Product Association promised to raise the issue with the European body which covers such standards.

Separate Department of Trade and Industry data shows 24 recorded cases of accidents linked to Moses baskets in 10 years.

But this only takes into account reports from a fraction of the country's hospitals.

The researchers, from Whiston Hospital in Prescot, Merseyside, say the true number of incidents could be much higher.

But they say falls tend to be from a low height and so most do not result in the baby being hurt.

Dr Markus Hesseling, who carried out the research, said parents who owned Moses baskets should check whether or not the handles met.

"If they do not, then at least they will be aware there might be a problem.

"It really is common sense that you need to be careful."

Consumer rights

David Jenkins, product safety advisor for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, told BBC News Online: "Moses baskets have been involved in a number of accidents.


There have been cases in the past where the handles have actually broken

David Jenkins, RoSPA
"There have been cases in the past where the handles have actually broken."

He added: "If parents are concerned, and they have difficulty using the Moses basket, then they have a right to go back to the retailer and say it is unusable."

Mr Jenkins said there could also be scope for Trading Standards prosecutions if baskets could not be used safely.

Heather Welford, spokesperson for the National Childbirth Trust, said: "This is one of those things where parents have to be urged to use their common sense.

"Parents should use Moses baskets with caution, but there's no evidence they should stop using them altogether."

See also:

14 Mar 01 | Health
Campaign to cut household scalds
07 Feb 01 | UK
The child safety catch
06 Feb 01 | Health
Britain 'safe for children'
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