Special Report: Tub Troubles
"She was a very good baby, very happy, she was the light of our life really," said Beth Vozenilik, whose granddaughter, 7-month-old Olivia Jade Gardner, drowned while bathing. Her mother left her alone for a few seconds and her bath seat tipped over.
"I was just shocked and horrified," Vozenilik said.
Since 1983, 96 infants died and another 153 were hurt in baby bath seats like this one.
The government pressured bath seat makers to come up with a safer design. Now, a new seat has hit the market- is it really safer?
Consumer reports tested the seat for stability and they claim it performed fine when the tub was dry. But when the tub wall was wet: "This new design, did not hold," said Sally Greenburg of Consumer Reports.
The makers of the seat sent 7News this statement- "Thanks to significant improvements in the design... the bath seat meets and exceeds the revised ASTM standards." It goes on to say: "When used as instructed, the bath seat is completely safe."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports one death associated with the new style seat. "Baby bath seats are a false sense of security," Greenburg said.
Who or what is responsible? Is it the seat, or the adult bathing the child? Should bath seats be banned? Harvard researchers studied infant deaths in tubs, and the results they found were surprising.
Harvard's Kimberly Thompson looked at all unintentional drownings in bathtubs between 1994 and '98. Of 118 deaths, only 40 children had been left alone in a bath seat. The other 78 kids had been left alone in a tub without any device propping them up. "When we looked at the actual data, it doesn't look like bath seats have a role in infant bath tub drownings," Thompson said.
"The rule of thumb is, don't walk away, don't leave your child unattended," said Patty Davis of the CPSC.
Even so, Olivia's grandmother says the seats should have been taken off the market years ago. "If they would have gotten rid of the seats, then Olivia would be alive today," Vozenilik said.
Whether you use a bath seat or not, all the experts agree, bathing kids can be potentially dangerous, so keep this in mind: never leave a child's side, even for a second. Never leave an infant in a tub with an older sibling. And, if you must leave to answer the door, or phone, take the child with you.