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Deaths Linked to Baby Slings, New Warnings Expected

Mar 10, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Speaking at a meeting of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, Inez Tenenbaum, head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said that the agency is preparing a general warning to the public regarding baby slings, reports the Associated Press. The warning is expected to be issued this week.

Slings are those infant carriers that parents and caretakers can strap across their chests; however, babies can suffocate in these slings and, sadly, some have, noted the AP. “We know of too many deaths in these slings and we now know the hazard scenarios for very small babies,” said Tenenbaum, quoted the AP. “So, the time has come to alert parents and caregivers,” added Tenenbaum.

Although Tenenbaum did not mention a specific baby sling and she did not provide the number of deaths related to these slings, complaints have been reported in recent years, said the AP. In 2008, Consumer Reports discussed the slings and about two-dozen reports that generally involved children falling out of the slings, said the AP. A blog following that report discussed the slings’ suffocation risks and that at least seven infant dates related to the slings had occurred, the AP said.

In 2008, we wrote that the CPSC announced a recall of defective Ellaroo LLC Ring Sling Baby Carriers over fall hazards. At the time, Ellaroo received four reports of the aluminum rings on the sling carriers bending, which caused the fabric to slip through the wings, which can cause the baby to fall out of the carrier. Ellaroo also received two reports of the rings breaking.

Consumer Reports, which is published by Consumers Union, complained about the “SlingRider” by Infantino, said the AP, adding that the so-called “bag style” sling wraps around the adult’s neck and then “cradles the child” in what it described as a “curved or ‘C-like’ position,” which has the baby resting below the chest near the belly. Apparently, the curve is what can cause infants’ heads—and infants have minimal head and neck strength—to droop forward with their chins falling on their chests, which restricts the infants breathing, explained the AP. Babies can also nestle their faces into their parents’ bodies and smother in the clothing, said the AP.

In 2007, said the AP, the Infantino “SlingRider” was recalled over problems with the plastic sliders on the strap of the sling.

And, although baby slings are touted as a good tool by which mothers and babies can bond—even being dubbed “babywearing”—said the AP, their use can have dangerous and deadly consequences. The slings have been seen on celebrities everywhere in the media and can be found at infant-focused retailers such as Babies R Us and BabySoSmart.com, according to the AP.

Tiffany Speck, a nurse and the owner of BabySoSmart told the AP that she has warned about the slings in classes she conducts “at hospitals, stores, and doctors’ offices.” “You wouldn’t want to put a baby in there,” Speck said in her interview with the AP. “The baby is curling, head toward toe, and what happens is the baby occludes its own airway,” she added, saying that babies should remain upright in a tummy-to-tummy position with their parent.


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