Objective: Parents in industrialized societies make increasing use of infant slings to carry their infants. This study was conducted to determine whether infants who are carried in slings are at risk of experiencing clinically relevant changes in cardiorespiratory measurements.
Methods: In a 3-period crossover trial, 24 preterm and 12 term newborns were continually monitored while being carried horizontally or vertically in a sling or lying in a pram. Oxygen saturation, heart rate, nasal airflow, abdominal breathing, and movements were recorded.
Results: Infants who were carried in slings were not at risk of clinically relevant changes of oxygen saturation or heart rate. The 90% confidence interval of oxygen saturation in both infant sling positions remained within a +/-2% interval around the average oxygen saturation in the pram. However, a significant decrease of oxygen saturation was observed while infants were carried in a sling with a mean oxygen saturation of 96.3% (standard deviation [SD]: 1.8) in the vertical and 96.1% (SD: 2.0) in the horizontal sling position compared with the mean oxygen saturation in the pram (97.1%; SD: 1.5). The degree and the incidence of desaturations and bradycardia did not change while the infants were carried. Both types of episodes were seen only in preterm infants.
Conclusion: The use of carrying slings is not associated with an increased risk of clinically relevant cardiorespiratory changes in term and preterm infants.