Parents are being urged to put their babies to sleep in the safest place in a new hard-hitting campaign.
Every year, 300 babies in the UK die suddenly and unexpectedly in their sleep as a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The north west has the highest death rate in England and Wales.
As such, NHS Bolton and Bolton Council are working with Salford and Wigan local authorities in a joint initiative to reduce the number of sudden infant deaths.
While there is no advice which can guarantee the prevention of sudden infant deaths, there are a number of things parents and carers can do to reduce the risk to their baby:
- The safest place for a baby to sleep for the first six months is on their back in a cot, Moses basket or crib in their parents’ room.
- It is dangerous for a baby to sleep in a normal bed or on a sofa or armchair.
- Babies should be placed on their back on a firm mattress, with their feet at the end of the cot.
- They should also not be allowed to get too hot with an ideal room temperature between 16–20°c.
- Babies should be protected from secondhand smoke – mothers should not smoke during pregnancy or smoke inside the house.
Falling asleep with a baby significantly increases the risk of sudden infant deaths if the parent is a smoker, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or just very tired.
Parents should also be aware that babies are at a greater risk if they are born prematurely or with a low birth weight.
A social marketing campaign has been launched to give high-profile coverage to the messages of the safe sleeping campaign and highlight the dangers of SIDS.
As well as the hard-hitting campaign, hundreds of health and social care workers from across the three areas will also be given training on how to advise parents and look out for signs that babies might be at risk.
Jan Hutchinson, Director of Public Health at NHS Bolton and Bolton Council said: “It is a tragedy when a baby dies, so it’s vital that we do everything we can to help parents and carers reduce the risks for babies with some straightforward advice on safe sleeping. I am very pleased to be supporting this campaign.”
HM Coroner, Greater Manchester West, Mrs Jennifer Leeming, said: “As the coroner for west Manchester, I see the cases of sudden infant deaths when they come to inquest in my court. I know the serious distress that they cause to the parents and family and I am very happy to endorse a campaign aimed at reducing the risk of such deaths.”
To learn more about reducing the risk, visit the FSID website or speak to a midwife or health visitor.