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Newsflash: CPSC warns against potential dangers of baby slings

Friday, March 12, 2010: The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a safety warning today on the suffocation risks of baby slings. The safety alert comes in response to 14 separate infant suffocation cases in the last two decades, caused by various brands of over-the-shoulder slings.

The full alert, which is directed at parents of babies younger than 4 months, doesn’t single out one specific brand of baby sling, but it strongly urges parents to take extra precautions when using any over-the-shoulder sling with their newborn.

Read the full official warning from the CPSC below:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning parents and caregivers to use extra caution when carrying infants younger than 4 months old in slings and make sure that an infant’s face is visible to baby wearers at all times.

When researching incident reports of sling use for the past 20 years, CPSC identified at least 14 babies who died since 1998 inside sling-style infant carriers. Three of those deaths were in 2009.

In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. When they are placed with their faces below the rim of a sling, they are not able to lift their heads to breathe. This can lead to two hazardous situations.

First, one particular risk occurs when the baby’s head is turned toward the adult. An infant’s nose and mouth can be pressed against the carrier and become blocked, preventing the baby from breathing. Suffocation can happen quickly, within a minute or two.

Second, when a baby lies in a sling, the fabric can push the baby’s head forward to its chest. Infants can’t lift their heads and free themselves to breathe. This curled, chin-to-chest position can partially restrict a baby’s airways, causing a baby to lose consciousness. The baby cannot cry out for help.


-- Kaitlin Stanford

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