A three-week-old boy most likely suffocated to death while pressed against a fabric sling worn by his mother, a NSW coroner has found.
Harvey McGlinn was found pale and motionless when his mother unwrapped the sling at a community health center on the Central Coast in 2019.
Staff at the center frantically performed CPR on the baby, but Harvey could not be revived.
“The evidence establishes that the position of Harvey‘s neck, with his chin on his chest, compromised his airway,” the coroner said in his findings delivered on Thursday.
The newborn was Tattika Dunn’s third son with fiancé Bill McGlinn.
“It’s still very raw and my heart feels like it’s been ripped in a million pieces,” Ms. Dunn wrote in a Facebook post a month after her son’s death.
She declined to be involved in the inquest. 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 resulting in a difficulty in maintaining a patent airway from the way that Harvey was positioned in the sling,” the coroner said.
The health center staff and product manufacturer were both cleared of any liability over the death.
The product included a suffocation warning and an instructional booklet that warned that babies needed to be carried upright with their chin off the parent’s chest.
Witnesses told the coroner that Harvey’s entire body was inside the loosely fitted sling.
NSW Health had since made changes to advice about the risks of baby slings, the coroner said.
NSW Health director of maternity, child and family Deborah Matha told the inquest that banning slings might be the only way to eliminate their risks.
However, she noted that this would be hard to do, as they were customary in some cultures and some disabled people relied on them as a necessity.
A new acronym, TICKS, has been devised to help parents avoid the same devastating loss.
It stands for Tight, In view, Close, Keep chin oIt advises parents to ensure the baby is held tight and high, is in view of the parent at all times, is close enough to kiss, is in a position so their chin is off their chest and never curled, and their back is well supported and in a natural position.ff chest and Supported.