CPSC looks into Halo Sleep Sack cases

November 15, 2011 7:33:20 PM PST
A 7 On Your Side investigation is getting attention in Washington. Federal investigators are now following up on our story about an infant sleepwear product that may pose a hazard.

The Halo Sleep Sack is a wearable baby blanket that can be zipped up for added comfort and protection. The zipper on the blanket is known to have injured at least two infants and other parents have filed complaints calling the zipper a choking hazard.

Lucinda Alden welcomed an investigator with the Consumer Product Safety Commission into her San Francisco home. It was in October 2010 when her then 10-month-old son Julian let out a terrifying scream. The eyelet of this zipper somehow snagged his tooth and he yanked that tooth out in a panic. Alden hopes the visit from the investigator will lead to action.

"I want them to recall the product so parents know and stop using it on their babies. I would like Halo to remove it from shelves and stop selling it. And I would like them to compensate us for Julian's medical costs," said Alden.

Halo is showing no signs it's willing to consider a recall. It declined a request for an on camera interview, but says its zippers "have been and will continue to be independently tested... to meet safety standards." Halo maintains the chances its zipper could cause another injury is extremely remote.

"Literally my heart began racing and my jaw just dropped because I could not believe this was the exact same story has happened to another child," said Lora Stern from Matthews, North Carolina.

Stern's daughter, Taylor, was 16 months old when she lost a tooth in a nearly identical incident to Julian last year. And as we first reported in September, information we obtained through the Freedom of Information Act uncovered five complaints the zipper has crumbled into pieces.

One mother wrote to federal regulators, "Twice now the pull tabs have broken off in two or three parts." Another noted, "The zipper basically disintegrated in my hands." And a third stated, "We were extremely alarmed and horrified" when the zipper fell apart in three pieces.

We showed the sleep sack to Dr. Tarik Zohdi, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. He looked at the zipper and concluded a child could crack it over time. He used a pair of pliers and a chestnut to illustrate his point. He says continuous chomping of the zipper by the child will cause little micro-cracks

"And eventually what will happen is the cracks will build up and just like this chestnut is breaking overtime, you basically just fracture and the walnut, or chestnut in this case, will break and fragment into the child's mouth," said Zohdi.

We notified the California Public Interest Research Group of our findings and it is now calling for a recall.

"Obviously that's a very dangerous and faulty product that should be taken off the shelves. The fact that they come off is one problem, but the fact that they disintegrate is even worst," said Jon Fox from CALPIRG.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has refused to comment on its investigation while it is underway and that has Lucinda concerned.

"So far it seems like there's some sort of communication big black hole that these cases are falling into," said Alden.

Zohdi recommends that the zipper be redesigned with Velcro or some other way to make the zipper inaccessible to children's mouths. Halo has already redesigned the zipper once to remove the eyelid, but we checked recently and found the sleep sack with the old eyelid still for sale.


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