Is Your Clothing Safe for Children?

Children's clothing with excess free ends of drawstrings and cords, excess protruded loops and three-dimensional embellishments attached is likely to generate such hazards as strangulation, suffocation, contusion or abrasion, strain or sprain or fracture. Identifying and addressing the potential hazards of drawstrings and cords in children's clothing has been a priority for US and EU policy makers for more than a decade.  

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) first issued a guideline for drawstrings on children's upper outerwear in 1996. According to the CPSC, drawstrings and cords in the neck and the waist area are often responsible for deaths and non-fatal accidents as they can cause clothing to be caught in playground equipment, moving vehicles or cribs. Building on the CPSC guidelines, in 1997 ASTM also adopted a voluntary safety standard for drawstrings on children's upper outerwear. In the EU, the specifications for cords and drawstrings on children's clothing, BS EN 14682, is a harmonized standard under the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD). 

Research shows that the standards regulating drawstrings and cords have created significant industry awareness about potential hazards. As a result, buyers and manufacturers have increased their efforts to ensure their clothing complies with the standards. However, the question remains: how much does the industry understand about the potential risk of drawstrings and cords in children's clothing? The table below represents accumulated figures on number of recalls in EU and the U.S. in 2009 versus 2010. In 2010 there was an upward trend in the recall of children's clothing as a result of failure of drawstrings and cords. The upward trend is especially apparent in the EU, where recalls related to drawstrings more than doubled from 2009 to 2010.  

The sheer number of clothing items that were recalled because of drawstring hazards resulted in the industry losing significant money on the production and marketing of the clothing and withdrawing the products from the market. In addition, a company’s brand and reputation may be damaged following a product recall, which can sometimes take years to rebuild or even result in the company’s failure.

Intertek can help you better understand the various regulations for drawstrings and cords, and also provide design consultation and assessment services to help avoid and alleviate hazards during the product design stage. Throughout our global network of 1,000 laboratories and offices in 100 countries, Intertek offers comprehensive apparel evaluation services for drawstrings and cords and other mechanical hazards in children's clothing.   

Should you have any concerns on the above news, please contact Intertek Hong Kong, Vienna Chow at Tel: +852 2173 8380, Fax: +852 3403 2564 or email to