Don't use baby neck floats at the pool this holiday weekend

baby neck float
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If you plan on spending time at the pool this summer with a baby, there's one item officials say you definitely shouldn't bring.

The Food and Drug Administration is telling parents to stop using baby neck floats after at least one child drowned and another was seriously injured while using the products.

The agency says the popular inflatable flotation devices can actually increase the risk of drowning -- especially when they're worn by babies with developmental disabilities.

The FDA is aware of one baby who died and one baby who was hospitalized related to the use of baby neck floats. In both cases, the babies were not being supervised, the agency noted.

While death or serious injury from neck floats is rare, the FDA wants health care providers, parents and caregivers to be aware that these events can and do occur.

Neck floats are inflatable plastic rings worn around a baby's neck that allow the child to float freely in water. Some floats are marketed for babies as young as two weeks old or premature babies, and are designed to cradle a baby's head while their body moves freely in the water. Parents and caregivers use these products during a baby's bath, while swimming and as a physical therapy tool.

The rings are often used in water therapy to treat children with spina bifida, spinal muscular atrophy and cerebral palsy. The FDA says supposed health benefits of the floats -- such as increased muscle tone, greater flexibility and range of motion, increased lung capacity, and better sleep quality -- have not been proven.

"Be aware that these neck floats have not been evaluated by the FDA and we are not aware of any demonstrated benefit with the use of neck floats for water therapy interventions," the FDA said in a statement. "The safety and effectiveness of neck floats to build strength, to promote motor development or as a physical therapy tool, have not been established."

Although an official recall has not been announced, the FDA is urging people to stop using neck rings and to report any injuries caused by them.