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Cot deaths highest for young single mums

Friday August 28th, 2009

Cot death numbers in England and Wales are falling - but single, teenaged mums are at high risk, according to a new analysis.

In 2007 - the most recent figures available - 305 babies under a year old died in the UK as a cot death, according to the UK Office of National Statistics.

This equates to 0.38 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 0.43 in 2006. Unexplained deaths were more common among male babies and highest in the North East.

However, the rate of unexplained infant deaths was highest for babies born outside marriage, at nearly eight times the rate for babies born inside marriage.

The report, "Unexplained deaths in infancy, England and Wales, 2007", was published on Wednesday (August 26). It includes both sudden infant deaths and deaths from an unknown cause.

Overall, the findings were welcomed by the UK's Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths.

But the charity's director, Joyce Epstein, is concerned that young, single mums are still more likely than others to lose a baby to cot death. She believes that the risk for young mothers living alone remains unacceptably high.

"This decrease is great news and hopefully shows that we are successfully reaching parents on how to reduce the risk of cot death," she said. "Nevertheless, these figures reveal that single mums, especially those under 20, are four times more likely to have a cot death than mothers over 24.

"This is why FSID has developed a new social networking site exclusively for young parents www.bubbalicious.org.uk which will help mothers, who find themselves alone, to access support and safe sleep advice."

The site offers health advice to teenage mums and dads, in an age appropriate format.

Tags: Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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