Warning over baby slings

A baby sling is a long strip of cloth that is used to support the baby across the front or side of the care giver’s body.  New warnings have come to the forefront linking these innocuous baby slings to infant deaths. US health authorities have warned parents that tiny babies may be at a suffocation risk from these slings. Reports say that these slings have caused the death of 14 babies over the last 20 years including 3 last year. Of these 12 babies were less than 4 months old.

Kidsafe Victoria President Dr Mark Stokes urged parents to "be constantly vigilant that they have not become positioned where their mouth or nose is covered by the sling".

Experienced midwife Robyn Thompson spoke in favour of these slings provided they were age appropriate and suitable to the mother’s or carrier’s height and physique. Constant vigilance regarding the posture of the baby is another must do. "I don't believe they are unsafe," she said. "I have been involved with hundreds of women who carry their baby in a sling. Modern times tend to say put the baby down, but the best place for a baby to be is with his/her mother and this is the way our ancestors carried their babies."

The major risks associated with these slings include suffocation and injuries from falling if there is a sudden loosening of the sling. Injuries might also be caused by sudden bends in the baby’s neck. This may also press the baby’s chin against the chest closing off the windpipe and suffocate the baby.

Consumer Safety Product Commission, CPSC recommends “parents and caregivers make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling 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 their baby in a sling.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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