Baby slings recalled amid safety fears

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The Independent Online

Two baby slings sold in the UK are being recalled in the US and Canada following claims linking them to three infant deaths.

The recall involves slings made by US company Infantino, the SlingRider and Wendy Bellissimo.

Today the UK's Trading Standards said its Buckinghamshire branch was liaising with Infantino regarding a statement.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said babies could suffocate in the soft fabric slings. The agency urged parents to immediately stop using the slings for babies under four months old.

Infantino president Jack Vresics said the company had been working closely with the commission about the safety concerns.

He said: "Our top priority is the safety of infants whose parents and caregivers use our products."

The company has so far offered a free replacement baby carrier, activity gym or shopping trolley cover to any affected consumer in the US.

Earlier this month the CPSC issued a warning about sling-style baby carriers, saying they posed a potential suffocation risk to infants, especially babies under four 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.

The CPSC said today that 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 warning the CPSC said infants could suffocate in two ways, from a sling's fabric pressing against a baby's nose and mouth, blocking the baby's breathing and suffocating a baby within a minute or two, or from the baby being cradled in a curved position causing the infant to flop its head forward and restricting its ability to breathe.

Slings have been promoted by baby experts as a way to calm fussy babies or for nursing mothers who can breast-feed their children in 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 to 2010 at several US retailers.