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Cot death rates continue to fall.

The number of unexplained infant deaths in England and Wales has reached an all-time low. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there were 279 deaths from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in 2009, which dropped to 254 deaths in 2010, a rate of 0.35 per 1 000 live births.

Although the drop between this period is not statistically significant, there has been a substantial drop since 2005, when the SIDS rate was 0.5 deaths per 1 000 live births.

The rate has continued to drop since the largest recorded peak in 1995 (when records began); but there are some regions that have much higher rates than the average of 0.35 per 1 000. The wost affected of these areas is northwest England, which has 0.53 deaths per 1 000.

Chief Executive of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), Francine Bates OBE, has called for more to be done to reduce cot deaths in this region in particular. She said: 'Although we have seen a small reduction in the number of deaths across England and Wales the figure for the north-west is extremely concerning. The region has had the highest rate for the last seven years.

'We know that smoking is a major risk factor for sudden, unexplained infant death and the smoking rate in London is the lowest in the UK; but the rate for the north-west is above the national average.'

FSID hopes that with the help of public health agencies, their 'Reduce the Risk' campaign may become more high profile and reach a wider audience.


Ms Bates said: 'FSID has pledged to halve the numbers of unexplained infant deaths by 2020 and public health agencies in the north-west and also in Wales, which has the second-highest rate, can help us achieve our goal by ensuring that 'Reduce the Risk' campaigns, with a focus on the dangers of smoking, are an ongoing local priority.'

Unite/CPHVA Professional Officer, Dave Munday, said: 'The FSID and health visitors should be proud of the huge impact that they have had on reducing the risk of cot death. It's important to remember, however, that there is still work to be done to further reduce the numbers of cot deaths. FSID have sensibly refocused their efforts on the big public health issues that have the greatest impact (as they did with their 'Back to Sleep' campaign). I'm sure our members will continue to engage in their work as positively and successfully as they already have in the past'.

Statistics also show that cot death rates among unmarried mothers are 1.18 per 1 000 and that along with the north west other areas with higher than average cot death rates include Wales with 0.50 per 1 000 and the West Midlands with 0.46 per 1 000.

London had the lowest rates, with 0.21 per 1 000, followed by the East Midlands with 0.25 per 1 000 and the south east at 0.27 per 1 000.
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Title Annotation:NEWS ROUND-UP
Publication:Community Practitioner
Date:Oct 1, 2012
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