The U.S. government is preparing a safety warning about baby slings — those popular and fashionable infant carriers that parents can sling around their chests to carry their baby. The concern is that infants can suffocate, and a few have died. At press time, there had been at least four deaths reported. The head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Inez Tenenbaum, says that her agency will issue a general warning to the public about the slings. She observed:
We know of too many deaths in these slings and we now know the hazard scenarios for very small babies. So, the time has come to alert parents and caregivers.
There have been complaints for a couple of years now about some baby carriers. In 2008, Consumer Reports raised concerns about the soft fabric slings and some two dozen serious injuries, mostly when a child fell out of them. A follow-up blog warned about a suffocation risk and linked the slings to at least seven infant deaths.
Consumer Reports, published by Consumers Union, complained about the “SlingRider” by Infantino. The “bag style” sling wraps around the parent’s neck and cradles the child in a curved or “C-like” position, nestling the baby below mom’s chest or near her belly. It’s the “C-like” position that causes safety advocates to shudder. They say the curved position can cause the baby, which has little head and neck control in the early months, to flop its head forward, chin-to-chest — restricting the baby’s ability to breathe. Another concern is that the baby can turn its face toward mom’s chest or belly and smother in the parent’s clothing.
Infantino’s “SlingRider” was recalled in 2007 for problems with the plastic sliders on the sling’s strap. But there have been no recalls because of a suffocation risk. A message seeking comment was left with an Infantino representative. Baby slings have been billed as an important way for new moms to bond with their babies. Use of slings, also known as “babywearing,” has become increasingly popular in recent years, with colorful and vibrant slings seen on Hollywood moms and sold everywhere from big retailers such as Babies R Us to a number of smaller firms located in cities all across the U.S.
Source: CBS News
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