Michael Dugher, Barnsley East MP, is calling for greater awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) after new figures showed a rise in the number of tragedies in Yorkshire and Humberside.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, while the overall SIDS rates for England and Wales showed a 17% decline since 2013, the rates in Yorkshire and the Humber have increased by 38% and are higher than the national average.
The figures, obtained by the Lullaby Trust, came as the charity launched its national campaign this week to raise awareness of SIDS – also known as cot death – and to give parents advice about the issue.
Mr Dugher joined the baby charity in urging local authorities to ensure health professionals in Barnsley and across Yorkshire receive the training and support they need to deliver safer sleep messages to all families.
As part of the Lullaby Trust’s Safer Sleep Week, the charity commissioned a survey that found over 53% of parents in Yorkshire and the Humber were unsure of one of the most fundamental steps to reduce the risk of SIDS: putting a baby on its back for every sleep.
Evidence shows that babies who are slept on their back for every sleep are six 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 efforts to boost awareness of SIDS and safer sleep by The Lullaby Trust, 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.
Mr Dugher said: “The results of this survey by the Lullaby Trust show we still need to do more to raise awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and make sure parents get good advice.
“We should recognise the important role of health professionals and family workers who offer advice on how to sleep their baby safely and the need to ensure they get training and support to continue their 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 Yorkshire and the Humber 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.”