A survey commissioned by charity The Lullaby Trust has found that over 68 per cent of London parents are unsure of the basic steps they can take to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome , often referred to as 'cot death', is when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly and the cause of death remains unexplained after a post mortem has been carried out.
The national survey commissioned by charity The Lullaby Trust, found that 68 per cent of parents in Greater London 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.
Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Lead Member for Community Wellbeing at Brent Council, said:
"Tragically, as is true for too many families across London, families in Brent continue to experience the heartbreak of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
"Dr Boroda, the local Paediatrician for child deaths and Dr Smith, Director of Public Health at Brent Council, looked back over eight years of unexpected infant deaths in Brent and found an association with how babies are put down to sleep. That's why Brent Council and local health services are working with the Lullaby Trust to promote the importance of safer sleeping and to make sure parents have clear and safe advice."
Dr Ethie Kong, a local GP and chair of NHS Brent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
"There's nothing more important to us than our children and we need all parents in the borough to act on this new research.
"Cot death is very rare but is more common in babies that are born premature or are a little underweight.
"As a GP, I would urge parents to follow the advice as babies sleeping on their backs is a safer sleep position."
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 45% of London parents are unsure whether they can sleep a baby on their front and a staggering 68% 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 per cent decline since 2013 and a 39 per cent overall decline since 2004 the rate in London has fallen by an impressive 45 per cent since 2004 and is lower than the national average. However, 24 babies still died in London in 2014 so more can and should be done. The survey results are a troubling indication that many parents in London are not still not equipped with the information they need to keep their baby as safe as possible.
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 London understand the basics of safer sleep. The Lullaby Trust exists to reduce sudden infant deaths and spare families from tragedy. We call on local authorities and health trusts to ensure safer sleep messages consistently reach all families and help us in our goal to prevent avoidable deaths now and in the future."
The call to action comes as part of Safer Sleep Week, The Lullaby Trust'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.