Baby slings – soft fabrics that wrap around the chest so that busy parents can carry their babies or just stay close as they bond with their infants are potentially dangerous products that continue to be of great concern. This past week the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of about 40 Sprout Stuff infant ring slings. The CPSC advised consumers to immediately stop using Sprout Stuff infant ring slings due to a risk of suffocation to infants.
This recall follows one on March 24, 2010, by Infantino LLC, of more than one million Infantino SlingRider and Wendy Bellissimo infant slings. Also in March, the CPSC issued a warning about these potentially dangerous products, advising parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months of age. Early this year the CPSC added slings to the list of durable infant products that require a mandatory standard.
The CPSC is working with ASTM International to quickly complete an effective voluntary standard for infant sling carriers until a mandatory standard is developed. Over the past 12 years, there have been at least 22 reports of serious injury associated with the use of baby slings. The injuries include skull fractures, head injuries, contusions and abrasions. Most occurred when the child fell out of the sling. The CPSC identified and is investigating at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers over the past 20 years, including three in 2009.
According to the March government warning, slings can pose two 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 infants 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.
The Sprout Stuff infant ring sling is fabric/natural muslin and comes with or without a shoulder pad. The sling is worn by parents and caregivers to carry a child up to two years of age. Sprout Stuff is printed on the back side of the tails hem. The CPSC and Sprout Stuff, of Austin, Texas are aware of one report of a death of a 10-day-old boy in the recalled sling in Round Rock, Texas in 2007.
The 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 because 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.
Meanwhile, the CPSC 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.
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