Smoking and bed-sharing are major culprits behind cot deaths: ...

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Smoking and bed-sharing are major culprits behind cot deaths: study

Respiratory tract infection is found to be the leading cause of ‘sudden’ infant fatalities

Journalist

It has long been a mystery why perfectly healthy babies suddenly die, with many parents often left wondering if they could have done anything to prevent the death, but a University of Cape Town study may provide some answers to cot deaths.

In an analysis of postmortems in cases of sudden unexpected death in infants (SUDI) in the Garden Route and Karoo regions, between January 1 2012 and December 31 2016, researchers from that university and the Western Cape department of health found that cot deaths were responsible for about 40% of all infant deaths. And about 98% of cot deaths happened during sleep. About 70% babies who died had symptoms of illness, albeit mild, but only a third of these infants’ caregivers sought medical attention.

The majority or 93.7% of the 400 cot deaths that were analysed were due to explained natural causes, with respiratory tract infection leading at about 74%. The most prevalent risk factors were: bed-sharing, especially with a smoker; side sleeping; prematurity; exposure to cigarette smoke; maternal alcohol use; unsatisfactory weight gain; and poverty...

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