Infant Slings Dangerous For Young Babies – 14 Deaths Reported

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is alerting consumers to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s warning to parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four (4) months of age. Over the past several years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission identified and is investigating at least Fourteen (14) deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three (3) in 2009. Twelve (12) of the deaths involved babies younger than four months of age.

Slings can pose two (2) 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 Consumer Product Safety Commission added slings to the list of durable infant products that require a mandatory standard. There is currently an investigation of these products to determine what additional action may be appropriate.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr., highly 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. (See examples below).

Consumer Product Safety Commission is interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are directly related to infant slings due to their ongoing investigation. They can be contacted at www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx or call Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772.

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