March 13, 2010 in Nation/World

Infant deaths prompt warning on sling use

Associated Press
 

WASHINGTON – The government warned Friday that those chic baby slings that hip moms and dads are sporting these days can be dangerous, even deadly for their little ones.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it has investigated at least 13 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers over the last 20 years, including three deaths last year. One other case involving a fatality is still being investigated. Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than 4 months of age, the agency said.

The commission is advising parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than 4 months. It said that many of the babies who died in slings were a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had a cold.

In its warning, CPSC said that slings can pose a suffocation hazard in two different ways.

•A sling’s fabric can press against a baby’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s breathing and suffocating it within a minute or two, the agency said.

•The other scenario involves slings where the baby is cradled in a curved or “C-like” position, nestling the baby below mom’s chest or near her belly. That curved position can cause a baby who doesn’t have strong neck control to flop its head forward, chin-to-chest, restricting the infant’s ability to breathe. “The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate,” warned the commission.

The popular “SlingRider” by Infantino has been singled out for criticism because of the curved position that the baby can fall into while inside the sling. Infantino maintains its SlingRider is safe. It issued a statement saying, “We appreciate the actions by the CPSC today, and are committed to working with them as well as parents and caregivers to address concerns they may have with baby slings.”

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