The Lullaby Trust has raised concerns about the risk to families after a new survey shows less than a third of dads have been given advice on how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The survey of over 500 new and expectant dads, found that less than a quarter of dads had been able to attend all antenatal appointments and over 50% have not been allowed to attend any at all.

The survey results are a concerning indication that lockdown restrictions combined with the increased pressure placed on public health services by COVID-19, means less support and information for new parents, which is putting babies at risk.

The latest figures released by the ONS in September 2020 showed that SIDS rates went up in 2018, fuelling concerns of a further increase during the covid pandemic. A parliamentary report released in the summer from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss, highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy and baby loss, stated that lockdown had exacerbated risk factors for some types of baby loss, such as sudden unexpected death in infancy.

Although the cause of SIDS is still not known there are steps parents can take to lower the risk. Awareness of SIDS and following safer sleep advice is crucial to reducing the rate of babies dying. Since the guidelines were made known to the public through the 1991 Back to Sleep campaign the rate of SIDS has gone down by over 80% overall.

Jenny Ward Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust said

It is very worrying that Dads are not receiving information on how to sleep their baby safely. Most Dads play a key role in the care of their baby and we know that during lockdown Dads are taking an even more prominent role in childcare. Safer sleep advice should be followed consistently for all sleep and nap times so it is very important that both parents know how to reduce the risk of SIDS. We are concerned that due to covid restrictions Dads are even less likely to receive this potentially lifesaving information. We sadly know of instances where a baby has died of SIDS, which may have been prevented by both parents being aware of safer sleep guidelines. Only by making all parents aware of how they can reduce the risk of SIDS and supporting them to help protect their babies can we ensure we do not see more lives lost.”

The Lullaby Trust’s annual awareness campaign Safer Sleep Week is aimed at supporting Dads. They are producing resources aimed specifically at Dads in partnership with Public Health England which will be launched in the Spring. The survey shows that worry about SIDS is high amongst Dads with 74% stating they are worried or very worried and only 6% saying they are not worried at all. The aim of the 2021 Safer Sleep Week campaign is to raise awareness of where Dads can access the support and information they need.

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