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Parents should be taught to reduce cot death risks

It is time to stop labelling events as cot deaths and instead concentrate on helping parents to reduce the risks, say experts in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The term sudden infant death syndrome was introduced in the 1960s as an unexplained event of natural death that carried no implication of blame for the parents.

Now experts say that maternal smoking during pregnancy and parent sleep behaviour could be to blame for cot deaths.

Research has found that mothers who smoked while pregnant contributed to 90% of cot death cases and were directly responsible for another 60%.

Writing in the BMJ, Jonathan Gornall says that attitudes must change. Efforts must be made to educate women who smoke throughout their pregnancies and those who continue to endanger their infants through unsafe parenting practices.

Gornall adds that parents must be taught to reduce cot death risks.


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"Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide and other toxins but so do the products of combustion from faulty cooking and heating appliances powered by any fuel that burns. Gas cookers, especially those with ovens and grilles without adequate extraction and ventilation are suspect because the products of combustion vent into the living space - often very small kitchens. Blocked flues can cause the products of combustion to build up in living or working areas. CO-Gas Safety asks all parents and indeed everyone to do what they can to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and poisoning from other toxins in the products of combustion from cooking and heating appliances powered by any fuel that burns" - CO-Gas Safety is an independent, registered charity