Harvey McGlinn: Mom shattered after newborn son suffocated to death in sling strapped to her chest

Harvey McGlinn: Mom shattered after newborn son suffocated to death in sling strapped to her chest
Three-week-old Harvey McGlinn was discovered dead in the sling worn by his mother Tattika Dunn, according to a NSW coroner (GoFundMe/Tattika Dunn)

NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA: In 2019 at a community health centre on the NSW Central Coast, Harvey McGlinn's mother, Tattika Dunn, unwrapped the sling she was carrying and saw him immobile and colorless. A coroner determined that the three-week-old infant most likely died from suffocation while being carried by his mother in the cloth sling. The infant was given frantic CPR by staff, but he was unable to survive.

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The coroner stated in his conclusions that "the evidence establishes that Harvey's position of his neck, with his chin on his chest, compromised his airway," according to The Daily Telegraph. "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."

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Harvey was Dunn's third child with fiancé Bill McGlinn. They also have a pair of twins named Seth and Bailey. 

Tattika Dunn and her fiance Bill McGlinn with their third child, Harvey McGlin (GoFundMe/Tattika Dunn)
Tattika Dunn and her fiance Bill McGlinn with their third child, Harvey McGlin (GoFundMe/Tattika Dunn)

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"It's still very raw and my heart feels like it's been ripped in a million pieces," Dunn wrote in a Facebook post in the aftermath of her son's death. She declined to take part in the investigation of Harvey's death. There was no indication that the duty of care had been broken.

The events leading up to the catastrophe, according to Tattika, were similar to any other day. She fed Harvey before the appointment at the health centre while enjoying a coffee at a bakery, but within ten minutes something awful occurred. “He was in the sling, which is where he was every single day whenever we went out. He never went in the pram because when we laid him flat he screamed,” she said on the Kiss FM’s Kyle and Jackie O show in 2019.

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The instruction manual for the sling and a suffocation warning both said that newborns should be held in it with their chins off their parents' chests and upright. In addition to being held tightly and up high, the infant should always be in the parent's line of sight, be near enough to kiss, have their chin off their chest and never curl, and have their back stabilized and in a natural position. The coroner reported that NSW Health changed its advisory on the dangers of baby slings in the wake of the little boy's death.

Deborah Matha, director of maternity, child, and family services for NSW Health, testified at the inquest and stated that the only way to entirely remove the risk was to outlaw slings, though she acknowledged that would be nearly impossible given the cultural and disability reasons why mothers use slings.

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Since Harvey's passing, the abbreviation "TICKS" has been developed to help other parents avoid the same disaster. "Tight, In view, Close, Keep chin off chest, and Supported" are the acronyms for TICKS.

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