March 16, 2010

CPSC calls for stricter warnings for popular baby sling carriers

On March 12, 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a news release warning parents and caregivers about possible suffocation hazards associated with baby slings. The CPSC has identified and is investigating "at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three in 2009. Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than four months of age."

A "baby sling" is a piece of cloth that supports an infant or other small child alongside a caregiver's body.  Baby slings are often a popular choice among active parents and are typically adjustable and made of stretchy fabric that allows a parents to carry an infant while keeping the hands free. The popularity of baby slings has led to various designs, styles and color patterns.

The CPSC reports, however, that baby slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards. "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 towards 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."

Because the CPSC indicates that most of the babies who who have died in slings were a low birth weight twin, born prematurely or had breathing issues or cold-like symptoms, parents of babies with low weight or fragile health are urged to use extreme caution when using a sling and asked to consult the advice of a pediatrician before using a sling.

For more information regarding the CPSC's ongoing investigation, visit: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10165.html.  

Motley Rice attorneys advocate for the improved health and welfare of consumers, fight against manufacturers of defective or dangerous consumer products and work to promote changes in safety standards. If your child has received  a baby sling-related injury, contact Anne Kearse or Kevin Dean via email or call +1 800.768.4026.