Coroner issues warning about baby slings after suffocation

A QUEENSLAND coroner has issued a generalised warning about the correct use of baby slings after an infant was inadvertently suffocated to death last year.

It was the third death across the nation in as many years under similar circumstances.

The court heard the parent's of the three-week-old were at a shopping centre where they were meeting a family member for lunch at which time the infant's mother sat down and started breastfeeding the infant.

The infant was placed in an over the shoulder carry sling, purchased over the internet, and was held within the sling on the mother's chest.

The infant was positioned across the mother's body with the head slightly higher than the feet.

After the mother finished breast feeding the infant the family continued to move around the centre and then the father noted one of the infant's arms was sticking out of the sling and appeared pale.

The infant's mother noted that the baby was not moving and then noticed blood and froth around the nose and mouth.

Queensland Ambulance Service personnel rushed the infant to hospital where it later died.

Coroner John Lock said in his findings banning baby sling carriers or particular types of baby sling carriers or regulating for performance requirements did not appear justified.

"However, some intervention to raise awareness about the risk associated with baby sling carriers in a clear and consistent manner both to consumers and industry would appear to be justified," he said.

"The incorrect positioning of the infant in a sling appears to be a significant factor in suffocation.

"Some slings that have a deep pouch that an infant can slide into may not be as safe as others that hold the child in a more vertical position.

"The two slings involved in the deaths in Queensland in 2010 and 2013 are the pouch type.

"Armed with the safety knowledge it is a relatively simple task to use a sling safely with the simple message of keeping the infants face and mouth uncovered and keeping the baby's back straight."

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