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Baby mentor advice broadcast on Channel 4 puts babies' lives at risk

BABY IN COT ON HIS BACK

Baby mentor advice broadcast on Channel 4 puts babies’ lives at risk, warns cot death charity

Baby care advice shown on last night’s (25 September) Channel 4 programme Bringing Up Baby increases the risk of cot death, warns FSID, the UK’s leading cot death charity.

Advice on the programme that a baby should sleep in its own bedroom from day one has, in fact, been found to double the risk of cot death. FSID and the Department of Health both advise that the safest place for babies to sleep for the first six months is in a cot in a room with their parents and not in the baby’s own room. Research(1) shows that a baby who sleeps in a separate room from the parents is nearly twice as likely to die as a cot death than one who shares a room with the parents.

Other advice shown on the programme is also risky. Sharing a bed with your baby can be dangerous, especially if you are a smoker, have drunk alcohol or taken drugs that make you sleepy, or if your baby was premature, of low birth weight or is under three months old.

Joyce Epstein, FSID’s Director, criticised Channel 4 for airing a programme offering risky advice without making clear the danger such practices pose. “Parents today are bombarded by all sorts of contradictory childcare advice, and Channel 4 should have made clear that there is evidence that some of the Bringing Up Baby mentors’ advice carries a risk.”

Cot death is still the biggest killer of babies over one month old in the UK today, claiming more lives than road traffic accidents, leukaemia and meningitis put together.  

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Notes to editors:

(1) The UK’s largest ever cot death study (Fleming, P et al (2000), Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy – the CESDI/SUDI Studies, The Stationery Office, London) found that babies who did not share a room their parents were 1.96 times more likely to die as a cot death than babies who slept in the same room as their parents but not in the same bed.

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths is the UK’s leading baby charity working to prevent sudden deaths and promote infant health. FSID funds research, supports bereaved families, promotes baby care advice, and works to improve investigations when a baby dies.

FSID runs a Helpline (020 7233 2090) for parents and professionals seeking advice on safe baby care. The Helpline also supports bereaved families. Advice for parents and professionals can also be found at www.fsid.org.uk

Advice for parents to reduce the risk of cot death:

  • Cut smoking in pregnancy – fathers too! And don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
  • Place your baby on the back to sleep (and not on the front or side).
  • Do not let your baby get too hot, and keep your baby’s head uncovered.
  • Place your baby with their feet to the foot of the cot, to prevent them wriggling down under the covers.
  • Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
  • The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib or cot in a room with you for the first six months.
  • It’s especially dangerous for your baby to sleep in your bed
    if you (or your partner):
    • are a smoker, even if you never smoke in bed or at home
    • have been drinking alcohol
    • take medication or drugs that make you drowsy
    • feel very tired;
    • or if your baby:
    • was born before 37 weeks
    • weighed less than 2.5kg or 5½ lbs at birth 
    •  is less than three months old.
  •  Don’t forget, accidents can happen: you might roll over in your sleep and suffocate your baby; or your baby could get caught between the wall and the bed, or could roll out of an adult bed and be injured.
  • Settling your baby to sleep (day and night) with a dummy can reduce the risk of cot death, even if the dummy falls out while your baby is asleep.
  • Breastfeed your baby. Establish breastfeeding before starting to use a dummy.
18th October 2007, 19:17
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Page updated 5th Oct 2015, 13:25
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