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Greg Mulholland

Greg Mulholland MP calls for increased awareness of risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

March 13, 2017 9:43 AM

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland has joined Baby charity The Lullaby Trust in urging local authorities to ensure health professionals in Yorkshire and the Humber receive the training and support they need to deliver safer sleep messages to all families. The call comes as part of Safer Sleep Week, the charity's national campaign to raise awareness of SIDS (often referred to as cot death) and the lifesaving advice that parents can follow to reduce the risk of it occurring.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, while the overall SIDS rates for England and Wales showed a 17% decline since 2013, the rates in Yorkshire and the Humber have shown an increase of 38% and are considerably higher than the national average.

Adding to this alarming picture is a national survey commissioned by charity The Lullaby Trust, which found that over 53% of parents in Yorkshire and the Humber 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 6 times less likely to die from SIDS than those who sleep on their front or side.

August 2015, blankSleeping babies on their front was commonplace until the national "Back to Sleep" campaign in 1991. This campaign along with continued awareness raising of SIDS and safer sleep, by The Lullaby Trust, over the 25 years since, has led to a widespread change in how parents sleep their babies. As a result SIDS rates in the UK have reduced by 85% since 1991. However, the rates could still be much lower and research has shown that if all parents followed safer sleep advice, the lives of many more babies could be saved.

The survey shows 37% of Yorkshire and the Humber's parents are unsure whether they can sleep a baby on their front and 53% are unsure whether to sleep a baby on their side. The results are a troubling indication that parents are still not equipped with the information they need to reduce the risk of SIDS and that more needs to be done to ensure all parents in Yorkshire and the Humber are aware of life saving safer sleep advice.

Mr Mulholland recognises the important role of health professionals and family workers who provide advice to new parents on how to sleep their baby safely and the need to ensure they receive the training and support to continue this vital work.

Commenting, Mr Mulholland said:
"Following the "Back to Sleep" campaign in 1991, it is pleasing to see that instances of SIDS have reduced by 85%. However, it is alarming that statistics in Yorkshire and the Humber are significantly higher than those of England and Wales as a whole, and have even increased by 38% in the past few years. The Lullaby Trust is doing a fantastic job in raising awareness of the issue of SIDS, and I hope that by bringing this issue to the forefront once again, we can further reduce the number of infants dying unnecessarily."

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 Yorkshire and the Humber know the basics of safer sleep. The Lullaby Trust provides training for around 3,500 health care professionals each year and calls on local authorities to ensure that safer sleep messages consistently reach all families, helping to prevent avoidable deaths now and in the future."