Delta Enterprises has recalled about 1.6 million cribs after two 8-month-old infants suffocated and died as a result of the defective beds. According to an October 21, 2008 MSNBC news report, both of the infant deaths involved babies getting trapped in a gap created when the movable side of the crib came off its guide track. Delta officials say that both of these tragic incidents also involved safety pegs that are intended to prevent the drop side from lowering too far and sliding off the track. If these pegs are not installed or if they fail to engage, the drop side of the crib can detach, creating a gap where babies can get trapped and suffocated.

Consumers are asked to stop using the drop-side cribs right away if the safety pegs are missing. The first child fatality occurred in May 2007 in Bryan, Texas. That infant girl died because the safety pegs were not installed on her crib. The second reported death happened more than a year later in July 2008 when an 8-month-old boy in Tallahassee, Florida, suffocated after a safety peg failed and allowed the drop side to detach.

The two-part recall included 985,000 defective cribs with missing pegs that were manufactured in Taiwan and Indonesia and sold by major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target.com between January 1995 and September 2007. The recall also included 600,000 cribs with spring-loaded safety pegs that could fail. These cribs were made in China and sold between January 2000 and January 2007. Delta is not offering any refunds but will offer consumers replacement safety pegs or spring peg kits.

For a complete list of the crib model numbers and other details, please read this alert from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or visit this Web site.

This recall raises several questions, but the main concern is why the manufacturer and CPSC officials waited and delayed the recall by so many years. Clearly, one of the main issues crib manufacturers and federal safety officials must address is crib durability standards. It’s high time that the CPSC issued new regulations to deal with hardware problems and defects that have been at the center of five recent crib recalls and contributed to the deaths of at least two other infants. Crib hardware can wear out over time. Parents who buy used cribs or accept hand-me-downs often without parts or instructions, must be very careful and inspect the crib thoroughly to make sure there are no missing or defective parts that could pose a serious hazard to their children.