Swaddling case: Sisters charged with wrapping infants 'like a boa constrictor'

Swaddling case: Two sisters in California pleaded not guilty to charges they endangered infants by swaddling them too tightly in blankets. The sisters, law enforcement said, swaddled seven infants between 7 and 11 months so tightly that they were unable to breathe. 

AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, Jim Stevens
Lida Sharaf waits in the holding area at Superior Court for arraignment on felony and misdemeanor child abuse charges in Pleasanton, Calif., Thursday, April 25, 2013. The attorney for two Northern California women facing charges that they endangered infants' lives by binding them too tightly in swaddling blankets says the women did not intend to hurt the babies and maintain what they did was not abuse.

Two sisters in Northern California facing charges that they endangered infants' lives by binding them too tightly in swaddling blankets have pleaded not guilty.

The Oakland Tribune reports that Nazila and Lida Sharaf entered their pleas Monday in Alameda County Superior Court.

The sisters have been released from custody after posting $340,000 bail each. They are each charged with three counts of felony child abuse and neglect and four counts of misdemeanor child abuse and neglect.

Authorities say the women wrapped seven babies up like boa constrictors at their Livermore preschool, impairing the children's ability to move and breathe.

According to the Oakland Tribune

"Investigators said that both Nazila and Lida Sharaf are suspected of tying blankets around seven infants between 7 months and 11 months old so tightly that the babies' ability to breathe was restricted. In addition, the swaddling restricted the babies from being able to move their arms and legs. The women reportedly then secured the wrapped blankets with heavy-duty knots for what was described as a "lengthy" period of time, Goard said.

Police also learned that the women sometimes threw blankets over the children's faces while the infants had their arms and legs bound, rendering the babies virtually incapable of rescuing themselves if they needed air. Perhaps most disturbingly, Goard said, is that of the seven children identified in the case, both Sharafs knew that three of the babies had upper respiratory conditions."

""They basically restrained these children, almost like a boa constrictor," Goard told the Tribune. "All of these children could have died in the process of binding these extremities."

Swaddling, a common technique where the caregiver wraps a newborn in a blanket, is only recommended for use into the second month of a baby's life, pediatric experts told the Tribune. 

Their attorney says the women did not intend to hurt the babies.

Both sisters are pregnant and expecting their second child.

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