MP James Davies calls for increased awareness of risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
James Davies MP of Vale of Clwyd has joined Baby charity The Lullaby Trust in urging local authorities to ensure health professionals in Wales receive the training and support they need to deliver safer sleep messages to all families. The call comes as part of Safer Sleep Week, the charity’s national campaign to raise awareness of SIDS (often referred to as cot death) and the lifesaving advice that parents can follow to reduce the risk of it occurring.
The national survey commissioned by charity The Lullaby Trust, found that 57% of parents in Wales are unsure of one of the most fundamental steps to reduce the risk of SIDS: sleeping a baby on its back for every sleep.
Evidence shows that babies who are slept on their back for every sleep are 6 times less likely to die from SIDS than those who sleep on their front or side.
Sleeping babies on their front was commonplace until the national “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1991. This campaign along with continued awareness raising of SIDS and safer sleep, by The Lullaby Trust, over the 25 years since, has led to a widespread change in how parents sleep their babies. As a result SIDS rates in the UK have reduced by 85% since 1991. However, the rates could still be much lower and research has shown, that if all parents followed safer sleep advice, the lives of many more babies could be saved.
The survey shows 38% of Welsh parents are unsure whether they can sleep a baby on their front and a staggering 57% are unsure whether to sleep a baby on their side.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, while the overall SIDS rates in 2014 for England and Wales showed a 17% decline since 2013 and a 39% overall decline since 2004, the rate in Wales has fallen by an impressive 64% since 2004 and is slightly lower than the English national average. However, 10 babies still died in Wales in 2014 so more can and should be done. The survey results are a troubling indication that many parents in Wales are not still not equipped with the information they need to keep their baby as safe as possible.
Dr Davies recognises the important role of health professionals and family workers who provide advice to new parents on how to sleep their baby safely and the need to ensure they receive the training and support to continue this vital work.
Francine Bates Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust, whose aim is to halve the number of babies who die from SIDS to below 150 said:
“The results of this survey suggest that although we’ve come a long way in reducing SIDS rates, more needs to be done to ensure that all parents and carers in Wales know the basics of safer sleep. The Lullaby Trust provides training for around 3,500 health care professionals each year and calls on local authorities to ensure that safer sleep messages consistently reach all families, helping to prevent avoidable deaths now and in the future.”