Those fashionable sling-style baby carriers that many parents favor are associated with 13 deaths over the last 20 years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Friday.
The government agency warned parents and caregivers to use the soft fabric slings with caution, especially for infants under 4 months old, because they can pose a suffocation hazard, the Associated Press reported.
Some of the babies who died in slings had a cold, were born prematurely or were a twin of low birth weight, the agency said.
The slings can pose breathing problems in two ways, the CPSC said. Cradling an infant without strong neck control in a curved or "C-like" position, below the mother's chest or near her stomach, can cause its head to flop forward, restricting breathing ability. "The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate," said the commission.
Also, the sling fabric can cover a baby's nose and mouth, suffocating a baby within minutes, the AP reported.
Of particular concern are so-called "bag style" slings, which wrap around the parent's neck and cradle the child in a curved position. One-week-old Derrik Fowler died in Oregon last year in such a sling.