Northamptonshire baby deaths: Warning over sharing beds

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A safeguarding board warned co-sleeping is a possible cause in an increasing number of infant deaths

The number of baby deaths with possible links to co-sleeping with parents is rising, a safeguarding board has said.

Seven infants in Northamptonshire have died unexpectedly since March, of which one is to be investigated further.

The county’s safeguarding children partnership (NSCP) said most cases in the past year were not suspicious.

But it added better advice was needed for parents who share beds with their babies as it was a possible factor in “an increasing number” of deaths.

It dismissed comments made by a senior nurse last week suggesting a number of deaths during lockdown were linked to neglect or abuse.

Speaking at a Northamptonshire clinical commissioning group meeting, chief nurse Angela Dempsey said: “We have seen quite an increase in all levels of reviews. Some very sad situations, especially around domestic abuse. We have had quite a few child deaths.”

But the NSCP said: “A statement made at the CCG meeting on August 18 was incorrect and is not supported by the NSCP or any of its constituent partners.

“Safeguarding partners work closely together to ensure there is support for vulnerable children and families in Northamptonshire and safeguarding arrangements are in place to respond appropriately to the unprecedented conditions created by Covid-19 pandemic.”

Guidelines for parents and a local campaign to reinforce safer sleeping messages were being looked at, it added.

The national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel said it had 40 reports unexpected baby deaths in the UK between June 2018 and August 2019 and most were linked to co-sleeping.

Its report to the government said: “Families with babies at risk of dying in this way are often struggling with issues such as domestic violence, poor mental health or unsuitable housing.

“Due to coronavirus and the associated anxieties, disruptions that led to the deaths of these infants may be more prominent at present.”

BBC News