Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Warning that UK NHS Privatisation increases Risk of Cot deaths (SID)

Scottish Sudden Infant death charity for information and support on SIDS.

The number of babies dying from cot death will increase as austerity cuts force vulnerable families into unsuitable living conditions, the head of a Sudden Infant Death (SIDs) charity has warned.

The UK Government's healthcare privatisation will also put babies' lives at risk and vital services will be lost as the NHS is forced to restructure and make cost efficiency savings, according to Francine Bates, chief executive of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID).

She also described the cynical axing of a UK Department of Health leaflet, "Reduce the Risk of Cot death" that was previously sent to every new parent as "very disappointing". The leaflet set out the risks to babies and advised parents on how to minimise the dangers of cot deaths.

Ms Bates said: "If the socio-economic conditions worsen for these vulnerable families then more babies will be at risk. London's Metropolitan Police working in this area [sudden infant death] are saying that the housing conditions some people are living in with their very small babies is atrocious."

The "Back to Sleep" campaign launched in 1991 urged parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs, overturning previous advice from childcare experts. Within five years of the launch of the campaign, unexplained sudden infant deaths had dropped by 70 per cent.

Smoking is now the biggest risk for cot death so Ms Bates has organised the first seminar for researchers and smoking-cessation experts who will meet on Thursday, chaired by Anne Milton, the UK Public Health minister.

Ms Bates said: "Smoking has a massive impact on the health of an unborn baby. If all smokers stopped immediately it would reduce the number of cot deaths by up to 50 per cent."

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