Teenage mums cot death risk

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The number of cot deaths has reduced dramatically in recent years, but the rate is increasing in babies born to teenage mums.

The number of cot deaths has reduced dramatically in recent years, but the rate is increasing in babies born to teenage mums.

Babies born to young parents have a four times greater risk of dying without a cause than babies born to older parents. That’s the shocking statistic revealed by the sudden infant death (SIDS) charity The Lullaby Trust, which is using this year’s Safer Sleep Week (March 14-20) to get the message across to all parents, and particularly those aged under 20, that the risk of SIDS can be reduced massively by following simple safer sleep advice.

There were 249 unexplained infant deaths in England and Wales in 2013, with the rate rising to 0.36 per 1,000 live births, up very slightly from 0.32 deaths per 1,000 in 2012.

However, the rate of infant deaths for mothers aged under 20 rose significantly, from 0.92 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012 to 1.27 in 2013. The Lullaby Trust wants to bring the number of SIDS deaths down to below half the current number by 2020, and as part of that drive, they are launching a new Safer Sleep for Babies film that can be shared on smartphones, in a bid to get the message across to younger parents. Francine Bates, chief executive of The Lullaby Trust, says: “We believe the animation is a very effective way of getting our message across to young people, nearly all of whom use smartphones and are connected to social media.”

The film, which is available on The Lullaby Trust website (www.lullabytrust.org.uk) will be shared across social media, focuses on the do’s and don’ts of safer sleep, including always lying a baby on its back to sleep, not smoking, and not sleeping in the same bed as a baby if you smoke, drink, take drugs or are extremely tired.

“The vast majority of parents follow safer sleep advice, it’s embedded now. But it’s a continual process - mothers are delivering babies every day, and we constantly have to keep stressing the advice, particularly to younger mums.”

Safer sleep tips

Always place baby on its back to sleep.

Keep baby smoke-free during pregnancy and after birth.

Place baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first six months.

Breastfeed.

Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition.

Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with a baby.

Don’t sleep in the same bed as baby if you smoke, drink, take drugs, are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth-weight.

Avoid letting baby get too hot.

Don’t cover baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding.

Remove pillows, soft bedding, cot bumpers and soft toys from the cot

For more information about safer sleep, visit www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep

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