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Brent Council working to raise awareness of cot death

PUBLISHED: 08:32 14 March 2017

A mother holding a newborn baby. Picture: PA/Fiona Hanson

A mother holding a newborn baby. Picture: PA/Fiona Hanson

PA Wire/Press Association Images

They have joined forces with The Lullaby Trust after a survey revealed many parents are unsure how to properly keep their babies safe.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), often referred to as ‘cot death’, is when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly with the cause of death remaining unexplained following a post-mortem examination.

The national survey commissioned by the charity has found that 68 per cent of parents in Greater London are unsure of one of the most fundamental steps to reduce the risk of SIDS - sleeping a baby on its back for every sleep.

Evidence shows that babies who are slept on their back for every sleep are six times less likely to die from SIDS than those who sleep on their front or side.

Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Lead Member for Community Wellbeing at Brent Council, said: “Tragically, as is true for too many families across London, families in Brent continue to experience the heartbreak of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“Dr Boroda, the local Paediatrician for child deaths and Dr Smith, Director of Public Health at Brent Council, looked back over eight years of unexpected infant deaths in Brent and found an association with how babies are put down to sleep. That’s why Brent Council and local health services are working with the Lullaby Trust to promote the importance of safer sleeping and to make sure parents have clear and safe advice.”

Dr Ethie Kong, a local GP and chair of NHS Brent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “There’s nothing more important to us than our children and we need all parents in the borough to act on this new research.

“Cot death is very rare but is more common in babies that are born premature or are a little underweight.

“As a GP, I would urge parents to follow the advice as babies sleeping on their backs is a safer sleep position.”

Sleeping babies on their front was commonplace until the nationwide “Back to Sleep” campaign was launched in 1991 which, along with The Lullaby Trust’s work raising awareness of SIDS over the 25 years since, has led to widespread change in how parents sleep their babies.

As a result, SIDS rates in the UK have plummeted by 85pc since 1991 - but the rates could still be lower with research showing that if all parents followed safer sleeping advice, the lives of many more babies could be saved.

The survey shows that 45pc of London parents are unsure whether they can sleep a baby on their front while 68pc are unsure whether to sleep a baby on their side.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, while the overall SIDS rates in the UK have dropped by 17pc since 2013, and by 39pc overall since 2004, the rate in London has fallen by 45pc since 2004 and sits below the national average.

However, 24 infants still died in London in 2014 and the results of the survey suggest many parents in the city are still not equipped with the right information to keep their babies as safe as possible.

Francine Bates Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust, whose aim is to halve the number of babies who die from SIDS to below 150 said: “The results of this survey suggest that although we’ve come a long way in reducing SIDS rates, more needs to be done to ensure that all parents and carers in London understand the basics of safer sleep. The Lullaby Trust exists to reduce sudden infant deaths and spare families from tragedy. We call on local authorities and health trusts to ensure safer sleep messages consistently reach all families and help us in our goal to prevent avoidable deaths now and in the future.”

The call to action comes as part of Safer Sleep Week, The Lullaby Trust’s national campaign to raise awareness of SIDS and the lifesaving advice that parents can follow to reduce the risk of it occurring.

The campaign runs 13-19 March 2017. For more information visit www.lullabytrust.org. uk/safer-sleep-week

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