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Charity launches campaign to raise awareness of safer sleep for babies

Article By: Melissa McAlees, News Editor

The Lullaby Trust has launched a new Safer Sleep for Babies animation, in a bid to tackle rising rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) during this year’s Safer Sleep Week (14-20 March 2016).

Safer Sleep for Babies is the first animation to be released by the charity, which aims to inform parents, carers and health professionals the do’s and don’ts of safer sleep.

Francine Bates, chief executive of The Lullaby Trust said: “We have created the Safer Sleep for Babies animation to equip all parents with the knowledge they need to ensure their baby is sleeping as safely as possible.

“We know that babies born to teenage parents are most at risk of SIDS, we hope that by creating shareable content that can be accessed on the go, we will reach more young parents so they can learn about safer sleep. By doing so, we will be a step closer to reaching our goal of halving the rate of SIDS by 2020.”

According to the latest statistics by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), there were 249 unexplained infant deaths in England and Wales in 2013. The rate of unexplained infant deaths rose to 0.36 per 1000 live births, up from 0.32 deaths per 1,000 in 2012.

The rate of infant deaths for mothers aged under 20 rose significantly from 0.92 to 1.27, four times greater than babies born to mothers aged 20 and over.

Charleine Wain, semi-finalist of BBC’s The Apprentice series 11, is lending her support to Safer Sleep Week, having lost her son Caylan to SIDS in 2007.

“No parent should ever lose their precious baby. Having lost a little boy myself, I know first-hand the pain and suffering you feel for the rest of your life. The one thing that will always remain when the cause of death is SIDS, is the ‘What if's’? They eat you up and stay with you forever.

“I hope to raise awareness to help prevent SIDS and reduce the chances of other parents experiencing the loss and suffering my family has been through by supporting The Lullaby Trust’s Safer Sleep Week,” she said.

The video campaign comes after almost half of mothers who sleep with their infants deny it when asked by a GP, midwife or health visitor for fear of being judged, according to Gentle Parenting’s recent survey.

The survey has led to warnings that new mothers could miss out on vital advice from healthcare professionals on how to sleep safely next to their child.

Around half of all mothers sleep with their baby at some point in their infancy, with many finding that sharing a bed is practical during breast-feeding and to aid parental bonding.

However, it has been discouraged by some experts who claim that sleeping with a child below the age of six months could increase the risk of SIDS.

Official advice does not tell women not to take their babies into bed with them. Instead it states the safest place for a baby to sleep for the first six months is in a cot in its parents' room.

In England and Wales, more than 200 babies a year die unexpectedly in their sleep.

Previous research has suggested that co-sleeping, combined with other factors, might have a role in the deaths.

Mark Baker, director of the Nice Centre for Clinical Practice said: “We don't know what causes these babies to die suddenly but we do know that if a parent smokes, drinks alcohol or takes drugs then SIDS is potentially more likely to occur if they then co-slept with their infant.”

The Lullaby Trust provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies supports bereaved families and raises awareness on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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