Smoking has been singled out as a major factor in cot deaths by
a new report.
A study by Public Health Wales found the rate of fatalities
where parents smoked was "alarmingly high".
According to the statistics, out of 45 cases of infant deaths,
25 were from homes where people smoked.
Other risks included sleep position, co-sleeping and a low birth
Dr Paul Davis, author of the Sudden Unexpected Death In Infancy
- A Collaborative Thematic Review 2010-2012 report, said the study
highlighted the importance of smoke-free environments.
He said: "The fact so many of the deaths are linked to known
risk factors suggests many more could be prevented.
"In particular, the rate of smoking among parents was alarmingly
high and the importance of a smoke-free environment for young
babies cannot be over-estimated.
"Also, the proportion of babies who were co-sleeping with a
parent at the time of death, despite the presence of other risk
factors, suggest this is an important area for future health
"It's important parents do not feel they're being blamed for
their infant's death. That is not the case and by definition we do
not know the cause of these deaths. However, there are avoidable
risks and we should all work together to prevent as many of these
tragedies as possible."
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health welcomed the
study's findings and said it was crucial the recommendations were
The organisation's Wales officer, Dr Mair Parry, said: "Many
neonatal deaths are strongly influenced by pre-term delivery and
low birth weight - factors commonly linked to habits such as
"This is a factor that, when compared to the rest of the UK,
ranks highest in Wales, and one that is contributing to the
unacceptable sudden infant death rate highlighted in today's
"As a College, we have long campaigned to reduce the number of
avoidable child deaths, with a number of our recommendations echoed
in today's report - targeted campaigns to promote safe sleeping,
enhanced stop-smoking support for women before, during and after
pregnancy and ensuring healthcare professionals have access to
appropriate training to spot those most at risk.
"It's now crucial that we act on these recommendations and
develop the mechanisms to reach those families most at risk so we
can begin to bring these rates down."