Title: COT DEATHS CAUSED
BY DRUNKEN DADS; State Pathologist says most Ulster cases 'avoidable'.(News)
Date: 10/27/2002; Publication: The People (London, England);
Byline: LIZ TRAINOR
MOST Ulster cot deaths are caused by boozy parents falling asleep and rolling over on their helpless tots, a top doctor has claimed.
State pathologist Jack Crane says a massive 80 per cent of the sudden death tragedies are down to drunken mothers and fathers.
And last night he urged people to take more care - and help save more lives.
Although the number of cot deaths have plummeted in recent years, Professor Crane said a new pattern was emerging to explain why they were still dealing with sudden infant death syndrome.
"We've found that in the vast majority of cases the babies were found in a co-sleeping situation and a proportion of deaths were from overlay or suffocation.
"Frequently there is a pattern where the parents might have been drinking and they always seem to occur at the weekends so there seems to be something in this.
"The general view is if you take your child into bed there is a 50 per cent increase in the risk of sudden death."
Professor Crane, who has alerted the Department of Health to the development, said: "I'm trying to get across the message to parents that the practice should stop.
"Parents could roll over and suffocate a helpless infant.
"Even if we can reduce these deaths by one it will be something because every one of these deaths is an avoidable tragedy."
Professor Crane, who said cot deaths in Ulster had been dramatically cut back after the Back To Sleep campaign in 1982, has urged parents to stop taking tots to bed with them.
During the campaign, supported by TV presenter Anne Diamond who lost a son to cot death, parents were advised to lie their children on their back, not wrap them up too warm and not smoke near babies.
But now Professor Crane said it was now clear the figures could be cut back even more.
"Before the campaign we dealt with around 70 cot deaths a year but that has fallen to around 12.
"We can cut that back even further. A lot of it is following the advice which is just common sense."
APPEAL: Professor Jack Crane
COPYRIGHT 2002 MGN LTD
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