There have now been two deaths as a result of baby slings in Australia, the most recent happening in March this year. The baby girl was injured in the sling in Brisbane and died five days later. As a result of this most recent death, the Queensland coroner is said to be recommending new safety guidelines be introduced.
"The coroner is investigating the death and will decide what further investigations to undertake once the cause of death is determined," the spokesman said.
The first Australian death from a baby sling was a two-day-old boy in Adelaide who suffocated in September 2010. The mother had placed the sling under her shirt and jumper. When she checked on him he was cold and lifeless.
The cause of both these deaths is thought to be 'accidental suffocation'.
The deaths led senior South Australian pathologist Roger Byard to write to the Medical Journal of Australia, warning of the hazards posed by baby slings.
"Infants may be placed in a position where there is excessive flexion of the neck or obstruction of the mouth and nose that may cause suffocation,'' Professor Byard wrote. "The soft and rounded sleeping surfaces may promote a potentially dangerous 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."
Baby sling use, also known as 'baby wearing', is growing rapidly and it's time regulations caught up. The products can be traced back to most cultures as far back as the 1900s, with traditional baby slings being fashioned out of large pieces of material. This new wave of baby slings comes ready to use. They are useful when caring for babies aged four months and under when most infants crave regular comfort from their parents. Unfortunately it is during these first four months that babies are most susceptible to injury and death as a result of baby sling use.
There have now been approximately 15 deaths world-wide from baby sling use and multiple injuries. As baby sling use grows in popularity there's concern these numbers will rise. Millions of mothers around the world now use baby slings.