News Release

Baby-wearing products lead to higher risk of injury, hospitalizations in children under age 1

Preliminary research presented during the 2021American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Academy of Pediatrics


Preliminary research presented during the 2021 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition suggests the need for more parent education on use of baby-wearing products

ITASCA, IL – Baby-wearing products are an increasingly popular way to carry a young child in a sling, soft carrier or other type of device, but new research suggests that they can pose a higher risk of injury to children under age 1.

The study abstract, “Baby Wearing Injuries Presenting to Emergency Departments, 2011-2020: A Dangerous Fashion Trend,” -- presented during the virtual American Academy of Pediatrics 2021 National Conference & Exhibition -- shows that young children are not only more likely to sustain injury related to baby wearing but have a higher frequency of being hospitalized after the injury.

“The most precious thing a parent will ever wear is their child,” said author CPT Samantha Rowe, MD, MC, USA. “But like when buying a new pair of shoes, parents must be educated on the proper sizing, selection and wear of baby carriers to prevent injury to themselves and their child.”

Baby-wearing, also known as baby carrying, is a common form of attachment parenting that dates back to prehistoric times. Over the last decade, baby-wearing has demonstrated many benefits, including improved success with breastfeeding, improved infant to parent bonding, and improved attentiveness by fathers.

The researchers sought to characterize the epidemiology and impact of baby-wearing related injuries presenting to U.S. emergency departments. They reviewed 14,024 cases of baby-wearing injuries reported to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from 2011 to 2020 and found that 61% of children of injuries occurred in children aged 0-5 months with 19.3% of these infants requiring hospitalization, and 83.7% of these children injuring their heads. A total 18.1% of head injuries related to a baby-wearing product led to hospitalization.

More than one out of five – or 22% -- of all injuries were associated with the caregiving falling. The authors found seven cases of cardiopulmonary arrest.

About 30% of baby-wearing injuries were associated with sling carriers, and 45% associated with non-specified types of baby carriers.

The authors suggest there is a need for more rigorous parental education regarding the use of baby carriers. They found a wide variety of products on the market, with most designed with additional space in the bust for breastfeeding women. This may increase the risk of injury to children when the product is worn by men.

Dr. Rowe will present the study abstract at Monday, Oct. 11, 2021: 4:00 PM CT.


Please note: only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researcher may have more data available to share with media or may be preparing a longer article for submission to a journal.


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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit


Abstract Title: Baby Wearing Injuries Presenting to Emergency Departments, 2011-2020: A Dangerous Fashion Trend

Samantha Rowe

Bethesda, MD, United States

Monday, October 11, 2021: 4:00 PM –

Baby-wearing (BW) is an old practice that has seemingly undergone a revitalization, with large upswings in market consumer product sales and increasing compound annual growth rates across the United States (US).1 Federal law requires that BW products, including soft infant carriers, sling carriers, and framed baby carriers, comply with their respective safety standard. All BW products must supply consumer warnings as it relates to infant fall and suffocation hazards.2 As BW product use becomes more prevalent, injuries to worn infants will continue to present to emergency departments (ED) despite the current safety measures. The aim of our investigation is to better characterize the epidemiology and impact of baby-wearing related injuries (BWI) presenting to emergency departments (ED) in the US.

Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System were retrospectively analyzed for patients aged ≤5 years who sustained an injury associated with a BW product (baby harness, baby carriers or slings, baby carriers (not specified), other baby carriers, baby slings and wraps, framed baby carriers, and other soft baby carriers) from 2011 through 2020. Variables analyzed included, but were not limited to, patient age, involvement of a caregiver fall, and mechanism of injury. National estimates were generated from 601 actual cases.

From 2011 to 2020, an estimated 14,024 patients presented to US EDs due to BWI. A total of 22.0% (n=3,085) of BWI resulted from a caregiver fall. A total of 61.0% (n=8,548) of injuries occurred in children ≤5 months of age, with 19.3% of these infants requiring hospitalization, and 83.7% of these children injuring their heads. The products most often associated with injury included: baby carrier, not specified (45.2%, n=6,338); baby carriers or slings (30.9%, n=4,330); or other baby carriers (16.1%, n=2,260). Traumatic brain injuries/concussions were the most common BWI diagnosis (59.1%, n=8,284), with 20.8% of these injuries requiring hospitalization. Most patients were injured by falling from the product (52.1%; n=7,279).

BW is a prevalent child-rearing technique. While many of these injuries were evaluated in the ED and discharged home, some still required hospitalization. Traumatic brain injuries and concussions more commonly required further medical attention than other diagnoses. In addition, injuries in children ≤5 months of age also required hospitalization more often as compared to older children. BW is an old childcare technique that has received new life. Yet for all of its suggested benefits: better couplet bonding, parental freedom to complete activities of daily living, and exposure of the infant to new environments, there is a catch. BW is associated with head injuries in the most vulnerable infants, those ≤5 months of age. Health care providers should take care to caution and educate parents regarding the proper use, recommended ages and potential risks for BW.

For release: 12:01 a.m. ET, Friday, October 8, 2021

AAP contact: Lisa Black, 630-626-6084,

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