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Group Petitions FTC Over Baby Videos

2 May, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents May 1 filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging deceptive advertising and practices by the creators of the “Baby Einstein” and “Brainy Baby” brands.

The Walt Disney Company creates and distributes “Baby Einstein”; “Brainy Baby” is a product of The Brainy Baby Company.

In the complaint, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) said no research or evidence exists to support claims by “Baby Einstein” and “Brainy Baby” that their videos are educational and beneficial for very young children.

The CCFC is asking the FTC to prevent consumers from being misled into purchasing infant videos despite evidence from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends no TV or videos for kids under the age of two.

“'Baby Einstein' and ‘Brainy Baby' clearly violate the consumer protection laws,” said Jennifer Prime of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, which is representing CCFC in its complaint. “The Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits companies from making false claims or claims they cannot substantiate.”

The group, which claims sales of educational videos for young children top $1 billion annually, said excessive television watching can be harmful for toddlers because it displaces more brain stimulating activities, including interaction with parents and siblings and creative play.

“These companies are exploiting parents' natural tendency to want what's best for their children and their deceptive marketing may be putting babies at risk,” said Dr. Alvin Poussaint of the Judge Baker Children's Center and Harvard Medical School.

Representatives from Disney and Brainy Baby were not immediately available for comment.

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