Sudden Infant Death Rates Continue to Decrease in England

According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in UK, the number of unexplained infant deaths has continued to fall with the figures touching an all time low in 2010, the last evaluated year. But there are still concerns that more needs to be done to reduce the number further.

baby sleeping

In 2010 there were 254 sudden infant deaths in England and Wales with a rate of 0.35 per 1,000 live births. The number was down from 279 deaths in 2009.

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) however says that the numbers can be reduced further.

North-west England recorded a rate of 0.53 “cot deaths” per 1,000 live births.

Francine Bates, FSID’s chief executive says,

“Although we have seen a small reduction in the number of deaths across England and Wales, the figure for the North West is extremely concerning. The region has had the highest rate for the last seven years.”

The charity is now planning Reduce the Risk campaigns in collaboration with public health agencies to minimise the number of Sudden Infant Deaths and unexplained crib deaths.

Bates further says that though it is not known in many cases as to why the deaths of infant less than 12 months old occur, smoking is one of the causes noted.

“We know that smoking is a major risk factor for sudden infant death… the smoking rate for the North West is above the national average,” she  says.

She also recommends precautions like putting the babies on their back to sleep and not allowing the baby to share a bed with a parent.

Few also suggest that bacteria may be a reason for sudden infant deaths though it has not been definitely proven.

The organization believes that while the lowering of some unexplained infant deaths between 2009 and 2010 is not that significant, it falls sharply from 2005 when the rate was 0.5 deaths per 1000 live births. In 1995, when the figures were first compiled, the death rate was more than 0.6.

Apart from the regional differences the ONS statistics shows differences in sections of the population too. The rate of deaths among unmarried mothers who register the birth alone is 8 times more than married couples.

There are also seasonal differences like in 2010 one third of the deaths occurred during winter and one fifth during the Summer. It is thought that overheating and an unsafe sleeping environment, such as the baby’s head being covered, may have played a part.

The figures include both Sudden Infant Deaths and those deaths whose cause could not be ascertained even after a full investigation.

Here is a chart from the SIDS Resource Center that shows the rate drop around the world to 2005.  Fairly significant everywhere.

sids rates all over the world

Worldwide stats from

Image credit: nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo

About the author


Atula is a writer, traveler, and a nature-lover. She is also mom to a boy who seems to have inherited all her creative genes. When Atula is not busy making up stories with her son, she writes for numerous magazines, websites, and blogs. She is also working on her site on endangered species called

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