Numbers don't lie, or do they?

This article in the Toronto Star recounts how the Ontario Deputy Chief Coroner is calling for a ban on baby bath seats and bath rings. These products are designed to hold a baby upright in a bathtub. It seems that the products are not safe because sometimes a baby can climb out, or the suction-cups that hold the seat in place come loose, and the baby tips over and drowns. This is, of course, a tragedy.

However, what the article doesn't tell us is how often this happens. Sure, it says this:
The report, released Monday, found there were 50 cases of accidental bathtub drownings between 1986 and 2004, and five of those cases were directly related to the use of infant bath seats.
However without any context, the number 50 is rather meaningless. We are not told how many bathtub seats/rings are estimated to be in use, how frequently they are used, or even how many babies there are, and what their mortality rate in general. If I told you that 155,000 people die each day, you'd think that was a lot, until you realized that there are over 6 billion people in the world, and thus the death rate (on average) is 8.78/1000 per year. That's not so bad, in perspective.

Given that we don't know how often a baby dies in a bathtub seat (at least from reading the article), the public can not form an informed opinion about the proposed ban. What if there are people who need these bathtub seats, because they can not simultaneously keep their baby upright AND wash the baby at the same time? If you have only one hand, this could be the case. Or maybe you have twins and want to bathe them together, to save time. In this case you could put them both in a seat, and bathe one while the other soaks. I'm sure you can think of lots of use-cases for bathtub seats that don't involve leaving the baby unattended.

To the Toronto Star (well, it's a Canadian Press article, so who knows who wrote it?), I say this: Give us meaningful data, or else you're just scare-mongering. Lots of things in your home can kill a child. This is always tragic. But if the government is going to ban a useful product, we need all the information we can get.

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