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Mother Says Baby Sling Killed Her Daughter

TACOMA (CN) - A mother claims the poorly designed Nojo Original Baby Sling suffocated her 3-month old daughter. The grieving mom says Crown Crafts Infant Products dba Noel Johanna failed to warn consumers not to use the sling with infants younger than 4 months old, as it can cause positional asphyxiation.

"The 'Nojo - The Original Baby Sling' is unreasonably dangerous as designed and can result in suffocation/asphyxiation because babies are contained entirely within the pouch of a sling with their face, including nose and mouth, pressed against the adult's body, impeding the airway," according to the federal complaint. "The sling can also place the infant in a 'C' position, or a chin-to-chest position, which can also impede the airway. When an infant is in the chin-to-chest position, suffocation and death can occur within minutes."

Ann Heneghan says she was carrying her daughter in the sling while shopping and in less than 30 minutes, "she observed that her 3-month-old otherwise healthy baby was limp, pale, and not breathing. She observed blood-tinged mucous coming from Cathleen's nostril," the complaint states.

"Ms. Heneghan began shouting for someone to call 9-1-1 and to help her with her baby. She carried Cathleen back into the store and commenced CPR with the assistance of a bystander. EMS units arrived within three (3) minutes and took over resuscitation efforts. Cathleen's heartbeat and breathing was restored and she was transported by ambulance to Children's Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma, Washington.

"Cathleen was hospitalized in the pediatric intensive care unit for four days where she remained unresponsive and in a coma. According to medical records, evaluation of Cathleen's condition revealed that she was brain dead and had developed severe cerebral edema, seizures, aspiration pneumonitis, and an upper GI bleed, all associated with diffuse anoxic and ischemic injury. She was also found to have no cranial nerve function and no demonstrated respiratory efforts. Cathleen remained on advanced life support systems during the course of her hospitalization.

"On October 27, 2004, Ms. Heneghan made the difficult decision to remove Cathleen from artificial life support. Cathleen died in her mother's arms at 11:50 a.m. that day."

Heneghan says she was originally told that her daughter had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

But "On March 12, 2010, Ms. Heneghan was contacted by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) and was told that they were going to be issuing a warning regarding the dangers associated with the type of sling that Cathleen died in. Ms. Heneghan contacted the medical examiner who had conducted the original investigation and discovered for the first time that Cathleen's death was the result of positional asphyxiation - not Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as she had been told previously," the complaint states.

"On March 12, 2010 the CPSC released a warning stating that 'infant slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling's fabric can press against an infant's nose and mouth, blocking the baby's breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin towards the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate,'" according to the complaint.

"Subsequent investigation revealed that the 'Nojo - The Original Baby Sling' is a dangerous sling because it allows babies to retreat into a curved/'C' shaped position where his/her head can be pressed against the mother's body causing positional asphyxiation. Investigation also revealed that the product did not contain any warnings or instructions telling Ms. Heneghan how to use the sling safely, that she should not use this type of sling with infants under four months old, and that the baby should be worn tight to the mother's body with the head out of the sling at all times. The dangers due to the design and lack of warnings associated with the 'Nojo - The Original Baby Sling' were unknown to Ms. Heneghan and were the result of Cathleen Delia Ross' tragic and unnecessary death," the complaint states

Heneghan represented by Micah LeBank with the Connelly Law Offices of Tacoma.

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