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Beware of drawstrings on kids’ clothes, warns EU

One in 10 items checked in breach of safety rules

Baby clothes

Parents should ‘be aware’ of the strangulation risks posed to children from clothing with cords or drawstrings, after a European test found one in 10 such garments to be in breach of safety regulations.

The European Commission conducted inspections of more than 16,000 pieces of children’s clothing carrying either a cord or drawstring across 11 European countries – including Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Denmark – and found 2,188 did not comply with one or more of the requirements of the European safety standard. 

Almost 70% of the non-compliant garments were clothes for babies and young children, originating from within and outside of the EU. The Commission is advising parents not to buy any clothes with cords or drawstrings in the neck area for children up to seven, and to ensure cords are no longer than 7.5cm for ages 7-14.

Health and consumer policy commissioner John Dalli,said: ‘It is for each parent or carer to judge how best to manage the safety of their children. Our concern is that parents can choose garments for their children without having to worry about safety’.

Children’s clothing risk

The inspections were carried out between August 2008 and February 2010, targeting retailers as well as wholesalers, manufacturers and importers. European standards require these bodies to ensure children’s clothes meet certain levels of safety.

According to the Commission: ‘European market surveillance authorities receive notifications of accidents where cords or drawstrings on children’s clothes become entangled in bicycles, doors, car doors, or playground equipment, leading to severe injury or death’. 

The EU Commission identifies two risk groups from national accident statistics: young children getting hood cords trapped in playground equipment and older child wearing clothes with cords or string at the waist or lower hem getting trapped in moving vehicles such as bus doors or ski lifts.

The EU has more advice for parents buying clothes for both young and older children on its website.

Safety first

Keeping your child safe and healthy is every parent’s number one priority. That’s why we rigorously lab test a whole range of baby equipment, including pushchairs, child car seats, baby monitors and stair gates. 

Take a look at our baby and child reviews section for details of all our tests and to find recommended Which? Best Buys.

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