The one law that keeps life-saving recalls from being made public faster

ROANOKE, Va. – If deaths are linked to a potentially hazardous product, and the government knows about it, you'd think that information would be made public.

But a Consumer Reports investigation has revealed some surprising restrictions.

Evan and Keenan Overton lost their 5-month-old son, Ezra, in 2017. They blame his death on the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper, which Ezra slept in that night. 

"His face was planted into the back of the seat, like into the monkey's face, I guess, of the rocker. And his feet were straight, standing into the dip of the seat," said Keenan. "And um, when I picked him up, he felt like a doll."

Ezra's death isn't an isolated incident. 

Initially, Consumer Reports identified at least 19 infant fatalities linked to the Rock 'n Play Sleeper and similar products made by Kids II, in data collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the government agency charged with protecting the public from dangerous products. 

Ultimately, Consumer Reports uncovered more than a dozen additional deaths through its investigation.

Yet the identities of the companies whose sleepers were linked to infant deaths were kept hidden from the public for years because of Section 6-B of the Consumer Product Safety Act. 

"Section 6-B requires the CPSC, in most cases, to get permission from manufacturers before releasing their names or any information that could reveal their identities, even when products are linked with injuries or fatalities," said Rachel Rabkin Peachman, Consumer Reports investigative reporter. 

Consumer Reports says there have been problems with other products -- some of them fatal -- that the CPSC knew about.

All of this has led to Consumer Reports calling for the repeal of section 6-B.

"Everyone should know," said Keenan. "If there's one baby that died in a product, you should know about that."

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