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Child finger amputations spur stroller recall

March 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
In just the past few months there have been a number of recalls for children's strollers due to more than a dozen cases of children suffering from amputations of their fingertips. One of these cases happened in Orange County. Eyewitness News examined the case which helped lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission to conduct an investigation on all umbrella strollers that are currently being made. Maverick Burnham, a 21-month-old from Costa Mesa, loves to play with bubbles, but don't ask him to try to catch any. His left hand sports a large, heavy cast which is the result of a near-amputation to his little finger.

Maverick's mother, Noriko, says the hinge mechanism on their Maclaren-brand umbrella stroller was the culprit.

Eyewitness News inspected the Maclaren stroller and found how easy it was for the hinge to act as a guillotine. Its sharp edges, coupled with pressure from the hinge, could easily slice off a fingertip or more. And that is exactly what happened to Maverick.

"It was like a bloody mess," said Noriko.

Three weeks later, Noriko took Maverick to the doctor's office to see how the injury was healing. The doctors said that it may be years before he gets the feeling back in his finger, if at all. In the meantime, Maverick wears the heavy cast to keep the finger protected. But even the cast has caused some trouble.

"It's 10 pounds and he's only 30 pounds," explained Noriko. "So far, he falls over, he can't walk straight and he hits himself with it. We call it a club. He's gotten a black eye, a bloody nose. It's just been a nightmare."

Maverick caught his little finger in the hinge just as it was closing on the stroller. Maclaren has come out with a repair kit that covers that hinge, and parents can get this to help protect their child from any further injury.

The repair kit first became available after a voluntary recall in November by Maclaren. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it has had reports of similar amputations with at least 15 young children.

But Noriko says she never received a recall notice from Maclaren, even though she sent in her warranty card.

And when she finally reached Maclaren, "They said, 'Oh, well we can send you a repair kit that we have,' and I said, 'Oh, is that a repair kit for the finger too?'" said Noriko.

Eyewitness News spoke with a Mclaren spokesperson.

"Once we learned of the issue, we responded quickly. We take these matters extremely seriously and any injury to a child is one too many," said Charlotte Addison, marketing manager, Maclaren USA.

In a phone call to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, they told Eyewitness News that if Noriko sent in her warranty card she should have been notified of the recall. And the commission said that they are in the process of investigating other stroller manufacturers for a sign of a pattern because there have been other incidents of finger injuries with other umbrella-type strollers, not just the ones made by Maclaren.

"This particular issue is an industry-wide issue," explained Addison.

That means the design of the umbrella stroller is in question and as a result several manufacturers have recalls on their umbrella strollers:

  • Maclaren
  • Britax
  • Century
  • Cybex
  • Graco
  • Hedstrom
  • Regal Lager

The commission suggests consumers stop using their umbrella stroller until they have received and installed the repair kit from the manufacturer.

And if you have had a similar problem with your stroller, no matter what brand, let us know.