U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating the deaths of fourteen infants resulting from the use of slings. The Commission is advising extreme caution when using slings for babies under four months of age. Slings pose two different types of suffocation risks to newborns and infants under the age of four months. The Commission issued a statement that said: "In the first few months of life, babies can't control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling's fabric can press against an infant's nose and mouth, blocking the baby's breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate."
The babies most at risk for death related to the caregivers sling use are those who are born premature, are the low birth weight twin, or had breathing issues resulting from illness. The Commission recommends parents consult doctors regarding sling use and their infant's safety.
The Commission has taken the opportunity, though grounded in horrible tragedy, to ensure that slings follow a mandatory standard of safety for infants, like many other infant products on the market.
The commission has added slings to the list of infant products that require a mandatory standard. The Commission is also working with ASTM International to create a "voluntary standard" for infant slings. In addition, the Commission is investigating and researching what "additional action" must be taken to assure babies' safety.
Most importantly, the Commission insists that the infant's face is visible at all times while being carried in any sling or baby carrier.