Coroner’s warning to families

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A RETIRING coroner has made his last message a warning to families highlighting the dangers of co-sleeping with new-born babies.

Roger Whittaker, who has now retired from his 15-year career as a coroner, wants to drive home the message that the safest place for babies under six months to sleep is in a cot or a crib in their parents’ room.

Research has shown that there are around 300 sudden infant deaths in the UK each year and 17 of these occur in West Yorkshire.

“Even though the numbers of sudden infant deaths are reducing, 17 each year in West Yorkshire is still far too high,” said Mr Whittaker.

“The risk of infant death is heightened when parents smoke, consume alcohol, drugs or some medications and/or are very tired. Babies sleeping on a sofa or in a car seat for a long period of time are also at risk.

“Baby deaths are very distressing for everyone and I want to ensure that parents of newborns are listening to the advice that is out there and taking simple measures to keep their child as safe as possible.”

The number of baby deaths has reduced since the Back to Sleep campaign was launched nearly 20 years ago.

The message was to put babies to sleep on their backs with their feet at the foot of the cot or crib.

Dr. Sophie Egerton, public health registrar, said a baby’s airway can be blocked if its chin is pushed into the chest.

“By sleeping in a cot or a crib, it provides a flat and firm surface which prevents the baby’s head from being forced into its chest,” she Dr Egerton.

“Babies can easily get trapped between the back of a sofa and cushions and they are more likely to roll from their back onto their front if sharing a soft mattress or sofa with an adult who is moving about.”