The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a joint statement with Health Canada this week warning about the use of certain baby slings. The CPSC says it has identified fourteen suffocation deaths that occurred while babies were in the sling-style carriers. The CPSC says most of the children were younger than four months.
Three of the deaths occurred while infants were in slings by the manufacturer, Infantino. The company issued a recall this week of their “SlingRider” and “Wendy Belissimo” products. They have not taken responsibility for any deaths, however, and insist their products go through rigorous testing internally, with governmental agencies, and by third-party testing organizations.
One of the mothers whose child died while in the SlingRider believes the company sold her a defective product. On May 7, 2009, she set out across a store parking lot with her 7-day old infant in the sling. By the time she reached her car, the child was nearly dead. Her fiance started CPR and paramedics were called to the scene, but he could not be saved. The coroner ruled the baby’s death due to compression asphyxia/suffocation. In January, the mother filed a lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages and accusing Infantino of negligence.
CPSC and Health Canada said in their statement that, since a young infant has weak neck muscles and cannot control its head, the slings can be dangerous to infants in two ways. One, there’s a possibility that the fabric of the sling can press against the nose and mouth of a baby and block breathing, rapidly suffocating the child. The other problem comes from the curled shape the sling puts the baby in. The baby’s chin can curl toward his chest, restricting the airway and limiting his oxygen intake. The baby will not be able to cry out and can slowly suffocate.
Infantino has recalled one million slings in the U.S. The company says consumers should immediately stop using the recalled products. They are offering customers replacement slings.