Baby safety experts are urging parents to think twice before letting babies sleep in slings and hammocks. Courtesy: Channel 10
A three-week-old boy likely suffocated to death when he was pinned to a fabric sling worn by his mother, New South Wales coroners have found.
Harvey McGlynn was found pale and motionless as his mother unwound the sling at Central Coast Community Medical Center in 2019.
The center’s staff frantically performed CPR on the child, but Harvey could not be revived.
“The evidence suggests that the position of Harvey’s neck with his chin on his chest compromised his airway,” the coroner said in his findings on Thursday.
The newborn was Tatika Dunn’s third son with fiancé Bill McGlynn.
“It’s still very raw and my heart feels like it’s been ripped into a million pieces,” Ms Dunn wrote in a Facebook post a month after her son’s death.
She refused to participate in the investigation. There is no suggestion of a breach of duty of care.
“Harvey’s relatively low weight may have resulted in less muscle and head control, leading to difficulty in maintaining an open airway due to the way Harvey was positioned in the sling,” the coroner said.
Employees of the medical center and the manufacturer of the product have been cleared of any responsibility for the death.
The product included a suffocation warning and an instruction booklet warning that babies should be carried in an upright position without lifting the chin from the parent’s chest.
Witnesses told the coroner that Harvey’s entire body was inside a loosely fitted sling.
According to the coroner’s report, one of the nurses, RN (registered nurse) Kovacs, saw Ms. Dunn arrive “walking quickly … wearing a blue sling-like bag” with a “bulge” at the bottom of the sling. Daily Mail Australia informed.
She described the sling as “low down”, below the level of Ms Dunn’s navel and positioned horizontally.
She said that “if she had known or believed at the time that there was a baby in the sling, she would have thought there was an element of risk in the way the baby was carried”.
A second nurse, RN Percy, saw Ms Dunn arrive at the Center’s reception desk at 9.01am, saying she “didn’t recognize Tatika was in a pushchair and instead thought she was carrying some kind of bag around her neck”.
NSW Health has since made changes to advice on the risks of baby slings, the coroner said.
NSW Health Director Deborah Mata told the inquest that banning slings may be the only way to address their risk.
However, she noted that this would be difficult to do because they were common in some cultures and some people with disabilities rely on them as a necessity.
The new acronym TICKS was coined to help parents avoid the same loss.
It stands for tight, in sight, close, keep your chin off your chest and with support.
He advises parents to make sure that the baby is held strong and tall, is always in the parent’s field of vision, is close enough to kiss, is in a position where the chin does not come away from the chest and never twists, and the back is well supported and in a natural position.