By Olivia Scheck
MANHATTAN — A popular baby product company recalled approximately 2 million strollers Wednesday, citing four instances in which infants had been strangled by their strollers.
Baby product giant Graco and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) told parents to stop using the strollers and "travel systems" immediately and to contact Graco for a "free repair kit."
The affected products, which include older versions of the "Quattro Tour" and "MetroLite" strollers and travel systems, were recalled after multiple reports that infants' heads became trapped in the space between the stroller tray and seat bottom, resulting in at least four deaths, according to statements by Graco and the CPSC.
The dangerous gap, located in the front portion of the stroller where the infants' legs are supposed to hang, became a problem when kids weren't strapped in, officials said.
"Whenever I hear that there's a recall, I have to ask myself, 'Now, is this an actual problem or were people just not using it correctly?'" explained Upper West Side mom Amber Davret, responding to the Graco announcement on Wednesday.
"I feel like a lot of the recalls are only problems because the people aren't using it correctly."
Other Manhattan parents were less forgiving of the company, wondering why it took them so long to issue the recall.
The reported deaths occurred between 2003 and 2005, and it is not clear when Graco first learned of the design flaw. A representative for the CPSC was looking into the issue at the time of publication.
"It's appalling. There's really nothing else you can say about it," said a Brooklyn mom visiting the Upper West Side who identified herself as "Zoe."
"When I buy something I'm always very diligent about filling out my contact information [in case there's a recall]," she said.
In January 2008, a new industry standard was adopted to address the safety hazard, requiring stroller makers to leave larger openings between the trays and seat bottoms, CPSC said, suggesting that the company has been aware of the problem for some time.
Graco has issued 35 recalls since 2000, according to a list on the company's "Recall & Safety Notifications" web page, including one which was announced earlier this year after their products severed the fingers of at least five children.