Mystery child deaths fell 15 per cent last year

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The Independent Online

The number of babies dying from unexplained causes, including cot death, has fallen by 15 per cent in one year, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Between 2004 and 2005, registrars in England and Wales recorded the deaths of 159 boys and 109 girls less than a year old. The death rate among infants fell from 0.48 per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 0.41 deaths per 1,000 in 2005.

Boys made up 58 per cent of unexplained deaths despite accounting for only 51 per cent of all live births.

Two-thirds of all unexplained infant deaths occur in the first three months after birth, the figures showed. Babies born to women younger than 20 were most likely to die from unexplained causes, while the lowest rates were among mothers aged 30 to 34.

Children of single mothers in a situation where no father was named on the birth certificate were six times more likely to die inexplicably than the babies of married couples.

Dr Richard Wilson, a paediatrician and trustee of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), said: "The advice to reduce the risk of cot deaths has cut deaths by 75 per cent and we need to look at ways of preventing other sudden infant death."