US authorities have announced tough new standards for baby cribs, including a ban on models with sides that drop down, which have been implicated in the deaths of several children.
The new rules by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) make it illegal to sell a crib with sides that drop down or those that do not pass strict tests on the durability of slats and mattresses.
It also effectively makes it illegal to sell second-hand cribs, since most will be unable to meet the tougher safety standards.
Commissioner Thomas Moore of the CPSC, in a statement Wednesday, called the new law an "important step to providing a much needed added measure of safety to our young children's sleeping environment.
"The benefits of our action today will be saving the lives of innocent babies," he said.
Officials said the law goes into effect in six month's time, although hotels and childcare centers will have two years to get rid of their existing cribs and to replace them with new ones.
The CPSC said that since 2007, it has recalled more than 11 million cribs.
The consumer regulatory agency said that across the United States, over the past three years, there have been dozens of crib-related fatalities, almost all of which resulted when a baby's head or neck became entrapped after a malfunction of the drop-side crib mechanism.
Consumer groups hailed the new regulations, which they said now gives the United States the toughest crib standards in the world.
"Parents and caregivers should have peace of mind when they leave their baby in a crib that their baby will be safe. For too long that has not been the case," said Rachel Weintraub, director of product safety at the non-profit Consumer Federation of America.
"We congratulate CPSC for shepherding this strong and much needed consumer protection," she said.