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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 July 2006, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Cot death professor is 'pioneer'
Peter Flemming
Cot deaths fell by 40% a month after his research was published
A University of Bristol professor has been named one of the UK's pioneers of science in a new book for his research into cot deaths.

Work carried out by Peter Fleming, Professor of Infant Health, is recognised as having prevented at least 100,000 infant deaths worldwide.

The book, Eureka UK, by Universities UK, celebrates 50 years of life-changing research by academics.

It lists the top 100 world-changing breakthroughs in academic research.

Twenty years ago, 2,000 babies were dying suddenly and inexplicably each year while sleeping in their cots in the UK.

Professor Fleming and his team carried out a survey in the former Avon area to try to discover if there were any discernible risk factors relating to cot death.

After analysing the data, Professor Fleming pinpointed three potential factors: babies sleeping face down, being covered in too many blankets, and being exposed to parental tobacco smoke. The results were published in 1989.

Cot deaths fell

After the successful trial in Avon, the national 'Back to Sleep' campaign was launched, backed by the TV presenter Anne Diamond, advising parents that babies should sleep on their backs.

Within a month, the number of cot deaths had fallen by between 30% to 40% and, after two years, by 60%.

The research has prevented at least 10,000 deaths in the UK and 100,000 deaths worldwide.

Professor Fleming said: "Thanks to continued research at the University of Bristol and collaborations with different research groups, the work we do has enabled us to have had a considerable impact on over 30 different countries."

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