The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning parents and caregivers not to use Otteroo infant flotation rings due to the risk of serious injury or death. The warning comes after Otteroo refused to agree to the CPSC’s request that it voluntarily recall this dangerous product.
Otteroo infant flotation rings fall within a class of products that are generally called “baby neck floats.” These floats look similar to inflatable inner tubes that older children use for water play. But instead of being worn around a child’s waist, these inflatable devices are worn around a baby’s neck. This questionably designed product is intended to hold a baby’s head above water, while their body moves freely in the water. The CPSC is aware of 68 incidents where infants slipped through the head opening of the Otteroo flotation ring and required immediate rescue by a caregiver. In 2020, a 6-month-old infant died by drowning and a 3-month-old was seriously injured while using this product, according to the warning notice.
The CPSC’s warning specifically cites Otteroo’s LUMI and MINI flotation rings, currently sold exclusively on Otteroo’s website, as well as discontinued models — Version 1, sold from 2014 to 2015, and Version 2, sold from 2015 to 2018. The products, which cost between $24 and $40, were previously sold on Zulily and Amazon.
The LUMI and MINI models are clear, inflatable rings with the word “otteroo” printed on the top. The rings have an illustrated white otter with an inflatable ring around its neck. The earlier models also are inflatable rings bearing the word “otteroo” and an illustrated white otter. They are constructed of both clear and blue plastic material.
The CPSC is urging consumers not to buy this product and to dispose of it immediately if they already own it.
A review of the SaferProducts.gov public database reveals that there have been a number of “near misses” involving the Otteroo flotation rings where catastrophic injuries and death were barely avoided, often due to quick-reacting parents. Reported incidents include:
Yet, despite the clear danger of its product, Otteroo has dug in, not only refusing to recall its infant flotation rings, but also characterizing the CPSC’s warning as “unjustified and alarmist” in a statement on its website.
In 2015, Otteroo recalled in conjunction with the CPSC 3,000 Otteroo Inflatable Baby Floats after the company received 54 reports of broken seams on these neck floats. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
The CPSC’s warning comes just four months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned parents, caregivers and healthcare providers not to use baby neck floats. The FDA stated in its warning that that it is aware that some manufacturers claim that neck floats support water therapy interventions in babies with developmental delays or special needs and that the floats promote increased muscle tone, greater flexibility and range of motion, increased lung capacity, better sleep quality, and increased brain and nervous system stimulation. However, the safety and effectiveness of neck floats to build strength, to promote motor development or as a physical therapy tool, have not been established, according to the FDA.
With respect to babies with developmental delays or special needs, the FDA warned that the use of neck floats can lead to death or serious injury and increased risk of neck strain and injury.
Daniel J. Mann, a partner and product liability attorney at Feldman Shepherd, recommends contacting a product liability attorney as soon as possible if your child has been injured by an Otteroo infant flotation ring or any other type of baby neck float.
“We are troubled by Otteroo’s refusal to recall this product, which has been determined to be unsafe for use by the CPSC,” said Mann. “While we hope for the best, Otteroo’s irresponsible conduct increases the risk of a catastrophic outcome. The product should be promptly recalled.”
Mann’s team at Feldman Shepherd, which includes partners Alan M. Feldman and Edward S. Goldis, have secured substantial recoveries on behalf of infants and young children who have been seriously injured or killed by children’s products, including baby slings, unstable furniture and magnetic toys.
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