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Durham University

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Bradford Infant Care Study (BradICS)

A research project of the Department of Anthropology.


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • RF170040: Bradford Infant Care Study (BradICS), Foundation for Study of Infant Deaths, £78554, 2008-09-01 - 2010-08-31


In a study involving 2560 families in Bradford, researchers have highlighted differences in how babies are cared for in UK Pakistani and White British families. As the largest ever study on this topic, the findings help to explain why some babies have a much higher risk of SIDS than others living in the same neighbourhood. Almost all babies in both groups were placed on their backs to sleep, as advised by the Dept of Health. UK Pakistani babies (who have a 4x lower SIDS-rate than White British babies) were less likely to have a mother who smoked or a parent who drank alcohol, and were less likely to sleep with a parent on a sofa, but were more likely to be breastfed, and to sleep in their parents’ room. Maternal smoking, parental alcohol consumption and sofa-sharing, not breastfeeding, and sleeping in a separate room are all well-known to increase the risk of SIDS. White British families were more likely to follow SIDS-risk guidelines involving sleeping babies feet-to-foot, keeping sleep environments free from toys and pillows, and providing a dummy, but these do not compensate for exposure to the above risks. The authors conclude that UK Pakistani families should be encouraged to maintain their cultural infant-care practices, and information regarding smoking, alcohol, sofa-sharing, breastfeeding and solitary sleeping should be targeted to White British families most at risk of SIDS.

Professor Helen Ball, an anthropologist from Durham University and Dr Eduardo Moya, a paediatrician from Bradford Royal Infirmary conducted the research with colleagues as part of the Born in Bradford study, and their results are now available online as an early publication in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. The Bradford Infant Care Study (BradICS) was funded by a project grant from FSID. The Born in Bradford cohort study is funded by NIHR.

Published Results

Journal Article

  • Ball, H.L. & Volpe, L.E. (2013). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) risk reduction and infant sleep location: Moving the discussion forward. Social Science & Medicine 79: 84-91.
  • Ball, H.L., Moya, E. Fairley, L., Westman, J., Oddie, S. & Wright, J. (2012). Bed and sofa-sharing practices in a UK biethnic population. Pediatrics 129(3): e673-e681.
  • Ball, H.L., Moya, E., Fairley, L., Westman, J., Oddie, S. & Wright, J. (2012). Infant care practices related to sudden infants death syndrome in South Asian and White British families in the UK. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 26(1): 3-12.


From the Department of Anthropology

Further information

For further information, please contact Prof Helen L. Ball.