Baby sleep positioners have been pulled from the shelves of UK retailers amid growing safety concerns.

Sleep positioners are used to keep a baby in a specific position while sleeping and are aimed at babies under six months of age. They have been linked to 12 infant deaths in the US.

Retail giants Mothercare, John Lewis, eBay, Boots and Tesco have stopped sales, though they are still currently available from other suppliers.

The Lullaby Trust, a charity set up to reduce cot death in the UK, told BBC News that parents assume that if something is for sale, it is safe to use.

"The age-old question that hasn't really changed is: how do I get my baby to sleep? And if there's a product that says: 'This will help your baby to sleep', it's obviously something that some parents will want to find out more about." - Jenny Ward, Lullaby Trust

The Food and Drug Administration in the US released a statement on Wednesday explaining that the items - often called "nests" or "anti-roll" products - have caused some babies to suffocate after rolling from their sides to their stomachs.

It said the two most common types of sleep positioners feature raised supports or pillows (called "bolsters") that are attached to each side of a mat, or a wedge to raise a baby's head.

The FDA first issued a safety warning seven years ago, saying "in light of the suffocation risk and the lack of evidence of any benefits, we are warning consumers to stop using these products".

There is no FDA equivalent in the UK, though the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is responsible for product safety policy, which is enforced by Trading Standards.

Mothercare had been selling a sleep positioner for £39.99 but has confirmed that it's no longer available. John Lewis, which stocked the Cocoonababy Sleep Positioner, have said they are removing it from sale as a precautionary measure. The retailer said it was also removing the Cocoonababy Nest, a sleep pod, while it awaits "further advice and reassurance from the supplier".

Amazon has said they will not be commenting on the issue; positioners are still currently available.

The Lullaby Trust has published a helpful Safer Sleep Product Checklist for parents who are unsure about what is safe to buy for their baby.

Home dopplers also pose a risk to babies lives

Safety concerns are a high priority for a number of charities aiming to save babies lives. In 2017 Kicks Count launched a campaign to regulate or ban the sale of home dopplers to expectant parents in the UK. Mothercare have discontinued their stock of dopplers and Tesco pulled them from the shelves.

The devices are intended for medical professionals and the general sale of these devices to women implies they are safe and suitable. The most significant risk of using a home doppler is that mums may be falsely reassured when they hear a heartbeat, when actually their baby could be in distress. This could lead to life threatening delays in seeking medical assistance. The best indicator of fetal wellbeing is always baby’s movements and this is what we should be focusing on – not these cheap imitations of medical equipment. - Elizabeth Christmas-Hutton, Kicks Count CEO

The Department of Health announced a Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) review of home dopplers in 2018, the review is ongoing.