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Go Ask Mom

Infant deaths prompt warning about slings

Posted March 12, 2010

Earlier this week, Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, told the manufacturers of children's products that the agency would be issuing a warning on slings.

And the commission did just a few minutes ago. While the commission has recalled slings in the last year because of defective rings, which broke causing the sling and baby to fall, its statement today focuses on the risk of a baby suffocating in a sling.

The statement says that many of the babies who died were younger than four months, low weight or had breathing issues such as a cold.

Read the entire statement here:

"The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is advising parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months of age. In researching incident reports from the past 20 years, CPSC identified and is investigating at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three in 2009. Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than four months of age.

Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling's fabric can press against an infant's nose and mouth, blocking the baby's breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate.

Many of the babies who died in slings were either a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold. Therefore, CPSC urges parents of preemies, twins, babies in fragile health and those with low weight to use extra care and consult their pediatricians about using slings.

Two months ago, the Commission added slings to the list of durable infant products that require a mandatory standard. Additionally, CPSC staff is actively investigating these products to determine what additional action may be appropriate. Until a mandatory standard is developed, CPSC is working with ASTM International to quickly complete an effective voluntary standard for infant sling carriers.

CPSC recommends that parents and caregivers make sure the infant's face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling's wearer. If nursing the baby in a sling, change the baby's position after feeding so the baby's head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother's body. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby in a sling.

CPSC is interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are directly related to infant slings. You can do this by visiting www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx or call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772."

3 Comments

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  • alcuthbertson Mar 15, 2010

    Weird I was in Target the day before this report came out, and I saw a woman with her barley 2 week old in on, the poor things face was towards her breast, not sure how he was breathing. Be careful moms.

  • MileageDontTakeYourKidsCrap Mar 14, 2010

    Wow this is horrible. Just like with any other baby product, we have to take caution to prevent things like this happening. The Maya Wrap was a wonderful sling I used with my son and daughter, and never had any issues. The ring was a sturdy, one piece hoop and the amount of fabric was generous enough to position the kids safely without fear of suffocation. My heart aches to the moms who have lost children in this manner.

  • rhiannongiles Mar 13, 2010

    Just wanted to say, before people talk about all slings being bad, that these issues are about "bag slings" like the infantino. Other slings, when used correctly, are not only safe, but are one of the safest ways to carry your baby.