They may look cute and seem harmless, but neck floats for babies can have deadly consequences, an expert warns. Kyran Quinlan, associate professor of pediatrics at Rush University, made the claim as the trendy gadgets continue to flood social media.
The former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said seams on the inflatable gadgets, sold across the world, can be poorly sealed.
Speaking of the growing sales of the dangerous devices, he said: 'Neck floats for babies scare me to death, and I hope they scare parents.
'These are potential death traps... To have your precious baby one poorly sealed seam away from going under at the pool is frightening.'
Such gadgets, designed originally as medical aids for disabled children, are often used by parents to support their baby's neck while in the water.
But officials have long warned of the threat of swimming and flotation aids and have said they should not be confused with safety devices.
Risk of drowning increases if the gadgets, used to support a baby's neck in the water, are used incorrectly, or if they accidentally deflate.
The AAP warns any air-filled swimming aids can pose the same risk, as any deflation takes away their buoyancy immediately.
Other experts have condemned neck floats as being unstable.
It is believed uneven surfaces in water, created when other people swim close by, can cause the baby to tip over.
Parents are often keen on using the devices as it allows them to stay poolside while their baby plays in the water.
The warning comes after two types of popular 'floats' were recalled in Australia by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading.
Two weeks ago it found two separate products sold on eBay increased the 'risk of drowning' if not used correctly, or if they deflated during use.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission states children who cannot swim may drown if their neck float fails or is not used correctly.