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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK
Bid to cut adult 'cot death'
Marc Vivien-Foe
Marc Vivien-Foe died suddenly while playing for his country
Campaigners are calling for the World Health Organization to officially recognise Sudden Death Syndrome.

They say the condition - in which previously fit and healthy young people collapse and die with no explanation - may kill up to eight people a week in the UK.

Labour MEPs, launching the campaign at the European Parliament, say officially identifying and naming the condition would aid formal study and analysis of its causes - and increase the chances of cutting the number of cases.

The condition is similar to "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" (Sids), or "cot death". Since such deaths were officially recognised as Sids more than 10 years ago, the number of cases has fallen by 70%.

Campaigners want the Office of National Statistics in the UK, which classifies deaths into specific categories, to lobby the World Health Organisation to create an International Disease Code for the condition.

'Worrying numbers'

Labour MEPs Linda McAvan and Catherine Stihler are spearheading the campaign in Brussels along with Alison Cox - who founded the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).

Linda McAvan, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "The sudden death of footballer Marc-Vivien Fo this summer was no freak one-off.

"His death highlighted the worrying number of cases of children, young people and otherwise healthy adults, who die suddenly every year.

"These people appear to have no symptoms, seem fit and healthy, but they collapse without warning or die in their sleep and there is little or no chance to save them."

She added: "These unexplained sudden deaths are often classified as death from natural causes.

"Not until the syndrome is named and the deaths can be logged will it become possible to study them systematically, identify their causes and find ways of preventing them from occurring."


Scotttish MEP Catherine Stihler, Labour's Heath Spokesperson in the European Parliament said: "The death of 26 year old Andy Tait, a policeman and fit and talented footballer here in Fife, is a vivid reminder that this syndrome can affect anyone, even those who seem most healthy in our community.

"It is only by naming this syndrome that we can edge closer to understanding causes, risk factors and putting preventive strategies in place."

But a spokesman for the Office of National Statistics said there was a classification that included Sudden Adult Death.

He said because possible causes could be neurological, metabolic, an infection or cardiac related, it could not be classed as a syndrome.

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28 Sep 03  |  Health
Sudden heart death
27 Jun 03  |  Medical notes
Foe's death heart-related
07 Jul 03  |  Africa
Test hope for adult 'cot death'
01 Jun 03  |  Health
'Why did my daughter die?'
11 Oct 02  |  Health

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