Despite the success of the 'Back to Sleep' campaign in cutting the numbers of cot deaths, these still remain high at weekends, reveals research in Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Researchers analysed the number and timing of cot deaths from national statistics for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland over two time periods.
The first covered 1986 to 1990, before the 'Back to Sleep' campaign, advising parents to ensure their babies slept on their backs, was introduced. The second covered 1993 to 1998, after its introduction.
During the entire period, there were almost 13,000 deaths attributable to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or cot death.
Overall annual numbers of cot death fell from 1718 in 1986 to 395 in 1998¯a fall of approximately 75%.
But deaths from SIDS peaked on Saturdays and Sundays, both before and after the campaign, the figures show, accounting for just under a third of the total number of deaths.
If anything, the weekend peak slightly increased after the campaign, rising from just over 31% to just over 32%, although this was not statistically significant.
The weekend peak was also much more obvious among babies aged 4 months or younger. In the second period, almost 4% more babies in this age group died at weekends than did babies aged 5 months or more.
The reasons for the weekend peak in cot deaths remain unclear, say the researchers. Parents may be less attentive to the needs of their infants over the weekend, it has been suggested.
Contact: Professor Peter Helms, Department of Child Health, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1224 554 058
Email: [email protected]
Click here to view the paper in full: http://press.psprings.co.uk/adc/july/670_ac23408.pdf