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NICE: Draft guidance on sudden infant death syndrome

Midwives, GPs and health visitors should ensure parents and carers are told of the link between co-sleeping  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), new draft guidelines recommend.

The revised guidance - published for consultation by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) - follows a request from the Department of Health for a review of NICE guidance on SIDS.

The recommendations - relevant for infants from birth until 1 year of age - say that midwives, GPs and health visitors should ensure parents and carers are told of the link between co-sleeping (falling asleep with a baby in a bed, or on a sofa or armchair) and SIDS. 

They also ask healthcare professionals to:

 - Advise parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping and SIDS is likely to be greater when they, or their partner, smoke.

 - Inform parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping and SIDS potentially increases if they have used drugs and/or recently drunk alcohol.

 - Tell parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping and SIDS potentially increases if their child had a low birth weight or was born prematurely.

Nearly 250 babies in England and Wales die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome every year. No-one knows why this happens, but there have been long-standing doubts over whether sleeping with your baby is safe. 

Professor Mark Baker, NICE's clinical practice director, said: “Falling asleep with a baby, whether that's in a bed or on a sofa or chair, is risky.

“It's imperative that all parents and carers know about the association between sudden infant death syndrome and falling asleep with a child under the age of one. This is especially important if parents drink alcohol, take drugs or expose their baby to tobacco smoke.”

Public consultation on the draft recommendations will run until Thursday 31 July 2014.