WASHINGTON — Century Products is recalling 4 million infant carriers that have handles that can break and faces investigation over whether it reported the defect soon enough, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Friday.
The commission began investigating the carriers that double as infant car seats in April after receiving consumer complaints. It then found that Century already had received hundreds of similar complaints, said commission spokeswoman Jane Francis.
"We're now trying to determine whether Century reported these incidents to us in a timely manner," Francis said.
The commission said an infant inside the carrier could fall to the ground and suffer serious injuries. "The break can happen unexpectedly," commission Chairwoman Ann Brown said.
The company, based in Macedonia, Ohio, is providing parents with free replacement handles. Consumers may call Century at (800) 865-1419 to obtain the part.
The company did not return calls seeking comment on the commission's investigation.
Century, according to the safety commission, has now received more than 2,700 complaints of broken handles and more than 200 reports of injuries including concussions, skull fractures, lacerations and broken bones.
Although it is unsafe to carry the seat until the free replacement handles are installed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assured consumers the carrier could still be used safely as a car seat.
"We encourage people to use it as a child-safety seat," said Tim Hurd of NHTSA.
The recall covers all Century rear-facing infant car seats/carriers with one-piece handles manufactured from January 1991 through July 1997.
The date of manufacture, written as month, day, year (010191 through 073197), can be found on a label on the side of the seat.