Parents putting babies at risk by using slings incorrectly, say experts

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London, Mar 20 (ANI): Experts have raised concerns about the safety of babies in the way parents carry them in slings.

Experts have warned that babies can suffocate within two minutes if the sling is pushed against their face or if they are carried in a curled position that is popular with many mothers.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is investigating the deaths of at least 13 babies in the past two decades, including three in the past year.

Twelve deaths involved babies younger than 4 months. Many were either premature or suffering breathing problems such as a cold.

The Government is "keeping the position under review" before deciding if British parents should be advised about the risks.

An official warning that very young babies who cannot control their heads risk being suffocated because the sling's fabric can block their nose and mouth has been issued in America.

Slings that keep the baby in a curled position, bending the chin towards the chest, can also restrict its ability to breathe.

"The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate," Times Online quoted the CPSC as warning.

"Make sure the infant's face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling's wearer," it stated.

It has produced a graphic showing the safe and dangerous methods of using a sling.

Parents of low-weight babies, twins and those in fragile health have been advised to take extra care and seek advice from their paediatrician.

"We know of too many deaths in these slings and we now know the hazard scenarios for very small babies," Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the CPSC, said.

Slings are familiar in many cultures and are often recommended for helping parents to bond with babies because of the close physical proximity.

The NHS's official guide for parents of children aged up to 5 advises parents to use slings without warning of any potential risks.

"It may be easiest to take a tiny baby in a sling," it advises in its recommendations for going outside for the first time.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said that it was not aware of the new warning but said that parents were advised not to use the slings for long periods.

"Midwives already discuss with parents the best positioning for babies," Mervi Jokinen, practice and standards development manager at the RCM, said. (ANI)

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