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Tragic deaths trigger warning to Wirral parents over sleeping with their baby
2:39pm Monday 2nd September 2013 in News
PUBLIC health experts are stressing parents should not to sleep in bed with their baby following the deaths of 20 babies in similar circumstances on Merseyside over the past five years.
All the babies were under four months and died in circumstances involving co-sleeping.
Co-sleeping is the term used when a baby sleeps with a parent or guardian in the same bed.
Margaret Jones, consultant in public health and co-chairwoman, of Merseyside Child Death Overview Panel, which reviews all deaths of children from birth to 18 years, said: “We have been extremely concerned that the numbers of these deaths coming to the panel for review are unacceptably high.
“If a young baby is sleeping in your bed rather than a cot, apart from the risks of them falling out and injuring themselves, the more serious risks are that the child could dangerously overheat, under a duvet next to adult bodies, or in the worst case scenario, could suffocate.
“This danger is hugely increased when one or both parents have been smoking, drinking or using drugs, as this can mean that the parent is far less capable of detecting when their child is in distress or danger.
“There have been several local cases where a parent has been under the influence of drugs or alcohol and has appeared to roll on top of the baby while sleeping, suffocating the child."
Fiona Johnstone, Wirral director of public health, said: ‘We want to reduce the chance of further tragic deaths by offering some very basic safe sleeping advice.
"We are aware that many women choose to feed their babies in bed.
“The advice remains clear for everyone; once your baby has been fed, the safest thing to do is to put them in their cot to sleep.
“We’d also like to raise parent’s awareness of the danger to babies of falling asleep with them in armchairs or on a sofa.
“While this might at first appear to be relatively safe, it is actually more dangerous than co-sleeping in a bed.
"It is very easy for small babies to slip off the sleeping parent and fall between the back of the sofa/armchair and the cushions. In too many cases, this has resulted in the death of a young child."
Dr Mallt Walters, consultant community paediatrician said: "Co-sleeping is a recognised factor associated with an increased risk of sudden unexpected death in young babies.
"Parents and carers must adopt the simple safe practice of always placing their baby in the cot to sleep."
The best advice for parents/guardians is as follows:
• The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot
• Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or an armchair
• Do not take your baby into bed with you if you have been smoking, drinking or taking drugs
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