GPs urged to warn parents about risk of sudden infant death syndrome

GPs and other health professionals should inform parents and carers that sleeping in the same bed as an infant can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), NICE has warned.

Newborn baby: warning over SIDS risk (Photo: PhotoDisc)
Newborn baby: warning over SIDS risk (Photo: PhotoDisc)

Draft NICE guidance urges GPs to warn parents or carers that falling asleep with a child after smoking, drinking or taking drugs raises the risk of SIDS. GPs must inform parents with babies born prematurely or who had low birth weights that they are at a higher risk of contracting SIDS, the guidance says.

The advice has been updated after recent research found that even non-smokers sharing a bed with their baby could induce SIDS.

Clinical practice director of NICE, Professor Mark Baker, said: ‘Falling asleep with a baby - whether that’s in a bed or on a sofa or chair - is risky.

Cause of SIDS unclear

‘There is no universal agreement on the causes of SIDS… but we know there is a link between SIDS and falling asleep with a baby.’

Professor Baker acknowledged that in some circumstances parents may find it difficult to sleep apart from their baby but warned this was a key reason why GPs should warn parents about the risks.

A consultation on the draft advice runs until 31 July.

Click here to respond to the consultation

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