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Minister warns against baby walkers



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The Hon. Warren Truss, MP Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs Deputy Leader of the House

MEDI A RELEAS E EMBARGOED UNTIL 14 August 1998 286/98

MINISTER WARNS AGAINST BABY WALKERS

Consumer Affairs Minister Warren Truss today warned parents and carers about the dangers of using baby walkers and pointed to the risk of injury associated with the product.

“ Baby walkers are causing too many injuries, and for this reason, some retailers have decided not to supply them,” Mr Truss said.

Baby walkers are ranked as the third most common cause of injuries to young children. Injury data shows that the risk of injury from baby walkers is almost four-and-a-half times higher than the risk of injury from prams and strollers, and nearly four times higher than the risk of injury from high chairs.

Mr Truss said it had been estimated that more than one in a hundred children using baby walkers would sustain serious injury.

“ Baby walkers have been around for years, and they are a familiar product,'* Mr Truss said. “ Unfortunately, it is not widely realised that walkers can expose babies to serious danger. Babies can travel quickly in a baby walker, but with little control of their movement.

“ These little ones have no sense of personal danger and unknowingly get themselves into hazardous situations. They fall down steps, fall off patios and can tip the walker. They can get into the kitchen where they can pull hot cooking utensils or boiling water onto themselves or get hold of poisonous chemicals.

“ Some children get their fingers and limbs trapped in the walker mechanism or are injured when they bump the walker into objects around the house.”

Mr Truss warned consumers considering buying a baby walker to be sure there were no hazards in the home that the child could reach.

“ Don't expect that an infant in a baby walker will be safe if you just ‘keep an eye on them’, because a baby can move surprisingly fast in a walker and get into danger before you realise,” Mr Truss said. “ Before considering a baby walker, it would be advisable to check alternative products for entertaining babies, such as stationary activity centres.

“ If you do choose to use a baby walker, you will need to provide solid barriers to stop the baby falling down any steps and to keep the baby away from all the dangerous hazards in your home, such as heaters, stoves, hazardous chemicals and open containers of water. Also, look for baby walkere that have safety features such as a wide base that will not fit through a standard doorway, or a braking mechanism to stop falls down steps.”

Contact: Andrew Hall — Media Adviser — 02 6277 7790 0419 996 766

Kef: CMR12J2 Email: ahalkg>dist.gov.au W ebsites: w w w.dist.gov.auww w.custom s.gov.au

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