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Safer Sleep Week raises awareness about cot death

Advice on sudden infant death syndrome or cot death

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This week sees The Lullaby Trust running a national awareness campaign aimed at anyone who is looking after a young baby.

Called ‘Safer Sleep Week’, its purpose is to make sure parents in the UK understand the importance of a safe sleep approach for babies to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS, also sometimes known as ‘cot death’, is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby that seems completely healthy.

According to the NHS, it is quite rare, however it still affects almost 300 babies a year in the UK, with the majority of deaths occurring whilst the baby is sleeping and usually within the first six months of life.

What causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

Although the exact cause of cot death is unknown, experts believe that it is down to how some babies respond to environmental stresses and how they regulate their heart rate, breathing and temperature.

These stresses could include tobacco smoke, getting caught up in bedding or having their breathing obstructed in some way.

How to reduce the risk of cot death

According to The Lullaby Trust, there are several things you can do to try and minimise the risk to your baby.

In particular, they recommend that, when putting your baby to bed, you always place your baby on its back in a clear cot or sleep space that is free from loose bedding, pillows, toys or bumpers.

In terms of what not to do, The Lullaby Trust advises against smoking during pregnancy and around your baby after birth, letting it get too hot, covering its face while sleeping or using loose bedding.

Co-sleeping can also be an issue. For example, it advises that you never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby. Nor should you sleep next to your baby in bed if you smoke, drink, take drugs, are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth-weight.

To see The Lullaby Trust’s full list of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome click here.

The charity’s website also provides lots of other advice to help you avoid cot death and there are also details of its bereavement support service for those affected by this tragic syndrome.

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