The Risk of SIDS or Cot Death

As well as delight, I think it's fair to say that a large part of the emotion at the birth of a healthy child is relief. Relief that, after hearing and reading about the many dangers that lurk throughout pregnancy, the promised new member of your family is now with you in person. Like a delicate medical operation, you've survived the risky part and everything's wonderful. But just as the recovery after an operation is still hazardous, so the phase after birth continues to be a cause of worry for parents. Ask parents from an older generation and they'll tell you this phase never ends, but nevertheless children are most vulnerable in their first year of life, most notably to cot death, or Sudden Infant-Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Heading in the right direction: Cot death rates in many countries are gradually decreasing.

Firstly, it's important to mention that cot death is not as common as you might think based on its coverage in the media. Although it is no comfort to victims, the risk of losing a baby to cot death in the first 12 months (the period of highest risk) is just under 0.05% in the UK according to the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, and thanks to that organisation's work and greater public awareness, this figure is on a gradual downward trend. In addition, new research carried out by Dr. Debra Weese-Mayer at Rush University in Chicago has also suggested that there may be a genetic link meaning that a higher risk of cot death could be inherited. Again, this is no comfort to those at greater risk but this finding is being followed by more research which should lead to a greater understanding and consequently further improvement of the above statistic.

This development also has big implications for cases where parents have been accused of murder following the sudden death of more than one child within a family, such as the high-profile case of Trupti Patel in 2003 who lost three of her children as babies. In that case, the consultant paediatrician involved was subsequently investigated for serious professional misconduct and other similar cases are being reviewed.

Unfortunately all parents have to live with the small risk of the unthinkable happening and although I felt silly, there have been several times when I've tickled my sleeping son's ear or hand to reassure me he's still with us. Obviously we can't watch them continuously or make them immune from danger, but in the case of cot death there are thankfully several simple steps that can significantly reduce the risk and help you, as well as your baby, sleep better at night (see www.sids.org.uk/fsid/babyzone.htm for the most up-to-date guidelines):

N.B. Sharing your bed with your baby also introduces the risk that you might roll over in your sleep and suffocate your baby, or that your baby could get caught between the wall and the bed, or could roll out of an adult bed and be injured.

Sources:

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See NBC TV video link regarding a mattress-wrapping promotion for cot/crib death prevention held by Jim Sprott in California this week: click on top left item (with picture of baby).
http://www.nbcsandiego.com/video/9720883/index.html?taf=dgo
This TV item has been broadcast by NBC within the past 24 hours.
If you would like to e-mail Jim about the NBC report or his mattress-wrapping promotion in California, his e-mail address is: sprott@woosh.co.nz

COT DEATH PREVENTION AWARENESS

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RAISING FUNDS TO PREVENT COT DEATHS - Thursday 22 June 2006

HELPING TO CUT THE COT DEATHS

THE UK COT LIFE SOCIETY:
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j.a_oakley@tiscali.co.uk

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Thank you.
Julee Oakley

Cot Life Society - Campaign Against Cot Death7 September 2006