Baby sling had warning for newborns under four months
The newborn baby discovered dead during a routine check-up had been carried in a soft fabric sling that warned of the greater risk of suffocation to babies under four months.
The NSW mum-of-three is struggling to come to terms with the shock death of her three-week-old son, who had not been gaining weight naturally and was born with a slow heart rate after she was induced.
His prescription medication and blood and urine tests are being analysed as a matter of course as a report for the coroner is prepared.
"The baby carrier was made of navy blue fabric and tied around the chest and neck and carried a warning that it was not for babies under four months," a police source close to the investigation said.
"The mother was significantly traumatised to discover the baby had stopped breathing.
"She had been talking for more than 10 minutes to the nurse when they discovered what had happened."
The woman, 36, had been attending a post-natal check-up at Long Jetty Community Centre on the NSW Central Coast when she and a nurse made the horrifying discovery on April 8.
She had carried the baby on her front several hundred meters in the sling from her home and chatted with the centre's nurse for several minutes before unwrapping him and handing him over.
Police are not ruling out the sling's potential contribution to the baby's death but are not treating the fatality as suspicious.
The married mother buried the infant last week and is said to be "beside herself" with grief.
"She had carried her baby for nine months and now this …," a source close to the family told The Daily Telegraph.
"It's a horribly tough time for her and the family. She had carried the baby properly on her front in the sling, she's a mother of three, totally devoted to her children, they are her world.
"She's utterly inconsolable."
A post mortem examination will now take place and the results will be presented to the coroner, who is expected to hold an inquest.
There have been three other deaths in Australia linked to baby slings since 2010.
Each died due to having its face pressed against the person wearing the sling, or having its breathing restricted due to being curled up in a C-shape.
Red Nose Australia - formerly SIDS and Kids, warned of the use of slings as a "suffocation risk" for babies under four months, or babies born prematurely, with breathing difficulties, or with low birth rate.
The Queensland University of Technology conducted a study of 800 Australian families into the safety of baby slings.
It discovered almost one in 20 infants had been injured or narrowly avoided injury in slings, and 95 per cent of the parents surveyed who either used, or intended to use a baby sling, considered them safe to use straight after birth.
NSW Fair Trading issued a reminder of the potential risks of slings with Commissioner at the time, Rod Stowe, urging parents and carers to take particular care when carrying babies less than four months old.
"Babies have suffocated while in slings," he said. "They are at risk if placed incorrectly in a sling because they do not have the physical capacity to move out of dangerous positions that block their airways.
"Two positions present significant danger: lying with a curved back, with the chin resting on the chest and lying with the face pressed against the fabric of the sling or the wearer's body.
"Slings are baby carriers designed to help you carry a baby by easing the pressure on your arms and back. They are not hands-free devices. Slings do not have identified leg openings."
The NSW Fair Trading website advises buying slings that come with detailed instructions for use and getting a baby fitted for a safe fit and keeping its chin up and away from the body.