Video: Baby slings recalled over suffocation risk

  1. Closed captioning of: Baby slings recalled over suffocation risk

    >> al, thanks.

    >>> a popular way for mothers to carry around their newborns but this morning more than a million baby slings are being recalled less than two weeks after a warning was issued about the suffocation danger that these devices may pose to infants. nbc's tom costello is in washington , d.c. with more on this story. tom, good morning.

    >> reporter: ann , good morning. a lot of moms, a lot of parents think this is a great way to bond with a baby, wearing the sling . but experts say if the baby isn't positioned properly, they can also pose a risk. a baby can't cry, and it can -- in fact some babies have -- suffocated in the fabric. kathleen ross was a happy, smiling 12-week-old when she went with her mom to run errands. but when ann went to take her baby out of the sling she had been wearing, something was terribly wrong.

    >> there was mucus with blood in it. just coming out of her nose, out of her right nostril.

    >> reporter: kathleen had suffocated. 1 of 14 such deaths over the past 20 years. in cities across the country, baby slings are as common as pacifiers and play dates . amanda keeps her baby calvin in one.

    >> it's good for them. it comforts them. it's been shown to lower their blood pressure and calm them down and it's just nice to have them close.

    >> reporter: but after three children died just last year, the consumer product safety commission says certain slings made by the company infantino are not safe. now infantino has issued a voluntary recall of a million slings in the u.s.

    >> the infantino sling creates a deep pouch and children in that pouch have potential of suffocating.

    >> reporter: in a statement to nbc news, the company says safety is our number one concern and today's announcement of a free replacement program reflects this commitment. with so many baby slings on the market, the cpsc is warning parents about improperly holding babies in any sling . the baby's face should never be covered. the baby should never be too low in the sling . the baby should never be hunched with its chin touching its chest. and the baby's face should never be pressed tight against whoever is wearing the sling . babies should always face up and use caution with babies under 4 months. back in washington state , ann is a busy mom with two new children. but five years later, she can't forget how baby kathleen died in her arms. babies -- new babies are especially prone to be at risk here because their next muscles of course aren't strong enough to hold up their head. if you have one of these infantino slings, you're asked to cut the label off right here on the sling and mail it in for one of several replacements. and again, they're asking you be very careful with all slings and how your baby is positioned. ann , back to you.

    >> good information this morning, tom. thank you so much. 7:18.

updated 3/24/2010 8:23:16 AM ET 2010-03-24T12:23:16

More than 1 million baby slings made by Infantino were recalled Wednesday after claims linking them to three infant deaths.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said babies could suffocate in the soft fabric slings. The agency urged parents to immediately stop using the slings for babies under 4 months.

The recall involves 1 million Infantino "SlingRider" and "Wendy Bellissimo" slings in the United States and 15,000 in Canada.

Infantino President Jack Vresics said the company has been working closely with the commission on its sling concerns.

"Our top priority is the safety of infants whose parents and caregivers use our products," Vresics said in a statement. He said the company would offer a free replacement baby carrier, activity gym or shopping cart cover to any affected consumer.

The slings wrap around the chest so on-the-go parents can carry their babies or just stay close as they bond with their infants.

Earlier this month, CPSC issued a broad warning about sling-style baby carriers, saying they pose a potential suffocation risk to infants, especially babies under 4 months. Babies who had a low birth weight, were born prematurely or had breathing problems such as colds were also at risk.

At the time, the commission did not single out a specific type of sling or manufacturer. It said it had identified or was investigating at least 14 deaths in the last 20 years associated with baby slings.

In Wednesday's announcement, CPSC said three of the deaths occurred last year and were linked to Infantino slings. It did not say exactly how the babies died.

In its general sling warning earlier this month, CPSC said infants can suffocate in two different ways:

  • A sling's fabric can press against a baby's nose and mouth, blocking the baby's breathing and suffocating a baby within a minute or two.
  • The other scenario involves slings where the baby is cradled in a curved or "C-like" position, nestling the baby below the mother's chest or near her belly. That curved position can cause a baby who doesn't have strong neck control to flop its head forward, chin-to-chest, restricting the infant's ability to breathe. "The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate," warned the commission.
Image: Recalled Slingrider
U.S. CPSC
The recalled ‘Slingrider’ can cause a small infant to flop its head forward, restricting the baby's ability to breathe.

Keep baby upright
Slings have been promoted by baby experts as a way to calm fussy babies or for nursing moms who can breast-feed their little ones in the sling.

Consumer Reports raised concerns about slings back in 2008, and had called on CPSC to issue a recall of the Infantino SlingRider. Safety advocates criticized the curved position that the baby can fall into while inside the sling.

Baby experts and breast-feeding advocates insist that not all slings are dangerous. They say carriers that keep a newborn baby solidly against the mother's body, in an upright position, are safe.

The Infantino slings being recalled were sold from 2003 through 2010 at several retailers, including Target, Babies R Us and Burlington Coat Factory. Consumers can call Infantino at 866-860-1361 to receive a free replacement product.

There are no federal safety rules for baby slings.

Infantino says it's working with CPSC and ASTM International, an organization that sets voluntary safety standards, to develop a standard for slings.

The CPSC specializes in product safety, and often negotiates agreements with manufacturers for recalls, when necessary.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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