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Parents warned of baby sling risks

health-and-fitness Updated: Sep 19, 2011 16:57 IST

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Parents are being warned about the risk of using baby slings after a two-day-old Adelaide infant, who was placed in a sling worn underneath his mother's shirt and jumper, died.

Two pathology experts said that as tests found no other explanation for the Adelaide baby’s death, the cause was recorded as undetermined, but the sling was “considered a risk factor”.

Authors Roger Byard, professor of pathology at the University of Adelaide, and senior specialist forensic pathologist John Gilbert said it was “important that parents and carers are made aware of potential safety issues with the use of these devices, particularly in very young infants”.

Sixteen deaths attributed to the use of slings have occurred in the United States and Canada, resulting in calls for mandatory standards by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

babyThe Consumer Product Safety Commission urged parents to immediately stop using the slings for babies under 4 months due to concerns babies could suffocate in the soft fabric slings.

“It is well recognised that infants placed in certain positions, such as in car safety seats, may be at risk of significant oxygen desaturation, and even death, due to upper airway compromise,” quoted Dr Byard and Dr Gilbert as writing.

“It appears that a similar situation occurs with certain slings, albeit rarely, as the soft and rounded sleeping surfaces may promote a potentially dangerous sleeping posture that impedes normal respiration.

“Constant monitoring of infants in slings is advised to ensure that the infant’s head is facing outwards, with no covering of the face,” they stated.

The findings have been published in the Medical Journal of Australia.