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Friday, 4 February, 2000, 15:32 GMT
Are parents being blamed for cot deaths?

Are parents being blamed for cot deaths? Join the debate

It's every parent's worst nightmare to lose their baby through sudden infant death syndrome, or cot death.

But now a major new study suggests that cot death, which is said to have occurred when no cause of death can be found, often occurs when parents fail to minimise the risk to their child.

Six out of ten cot deaths could be partly caused by sub-standard care, deprived living conditions or abuse, according to the report. Parents are either not following or not receiving the necessary advice.

The researchers say that cot deaths are not investigated as thoroughly as they should be and natural and unnatural causes of death - including cases of parental abuse - are being overlooked.

What do you think? Has the mystery surrounding cot deaths been lifted only for parents to start getting the blame?

Are parents being blamed for cot deaths? HAVE YOUR SAY Lets not allow emotions to out-weight the real debate. If a child born in a developing country is reported dead we all know what might have led to it (tropical diseases or even hereditary illness etc). In a developed world, the principal cause may be the "I don't care attitude of parents" when a child is conceived".
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria

It's a shame to see parents getting the blame for infant deaths. This will only serve to frighten new parents even more. It would be nice to get to the 'real' bottom of the cot death mystery.
Bethan, UK

If there are cot deaths it is hardly sensible to start blaming the parents, just because they are the child's parents and have to look after them. Research needs to be done on the geographical areas where cot deaths occur. What kind of places are these? Is it poor where parents don't know about child care? What kinds of parents live in these areas? A cot death is a death different and more personal from infant mortality or another child disease.

I totally disagree that the parents are too blame for the cot death of a child. I had a brother who died of this some years ago and I was never mistreated or badly taken care of as a child. My upbringing was fantastic and no mother in the world could have ever done a better job than my mum. Parents that go through this horrible experience go through enough without some study saying that they are too blame. In my view organisations are under pressure to try and find out the cause of cot death and as they don't have the answer this is an excuse.
Kate, UK

While I agree that neglect or ignorance on the parent's part causes some crib deaths, I hardly think it is justifiable to say that most crib deaths are caused in this way. There are many factors contributing to this increasing phenomenon. Little or no prenatal care for the poor or teenage mothers, the environment and the will of Mother Nature. My nephew was born healthy, was well cared for and loved, then died from crib death at 5 weeks. It is easy to blame parents for crib deaths when the scientist's cannot find an answer. I'm sure this study puts many grieving parents at ease...
Deana, USA

Until a cause of so called cot death is found, then of course parents will be blamed. I would like to see research done in countries where cot deaths are rare or un-heard of. The BBC newscaster said the report stated sleeping with your baby increases risk, I can see no evidence of this from the parts of the report on BBC web site. In many other countries sleeping with your baby is common place and cot deaths in many of these countries apparently rare. I have read in the past that some connection between the breath exhaled from the mother helping the baby to breathe. It's natural to sleep with your baby, so why is that not a recommendation? Why is not more research done in this area and advice given about how it can be done safely?
Claire Lee, England

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See also:
02 Feb 00 |  Health
Many cot deaths 'avoidable'
02 Feb 00 |  Health
'They thought my baby was murdered'

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