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Fall in sudden infant deaths

27th August 2009

The number of cots deaths across England and Wales is falling.

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Provisional figures from the Office of National Statistics show that there were 264 unexplained infant deaths in 2007, a fall of 7% on 2006, which also had a significant reduction.

Statistics show that most deaths were among babies of a normal birth weight of 5.5lbs and above, and occurred between 28 days and one year.

However, the highest deaths were among babies born outside of marriage where only the mother registered the birth – some eight times higher.

Rates were also higher in mums under the age of 20 and there were regional variations with more in the north east at 0.66 per 1,000 births and the fewer in the east of England at 0.32.

The cause of cot death remains unclear, though steps to reduce the risk include putting a baby to sleep on its back, not smoking near the infant and not sharing a bed if the parent has been drinking or is very tired.

Joyce Epstein, chief executive of The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, said: "This decrease is great news and hopefully shows that we are successfully reaching parents on how to reduce the risk of cot death.

"Nevertheless, these figures show that single mums, those under 20, are four times more likely to have a cot death than mothers over 24."

Next month, the charity is launching a new social networking site aimed at young parents offering support and advice on safe sleep.

 

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