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Cot Death on Rise in Australia

Cot death campaigners on Friday expressed concerns that the number of babies dying unexpectedly in their sleep was on the rise in Australia.

The number of children dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) increased from 59 in 2004 to 87 in 2005, SIDS and Kids Western Australia spokeswoman Angela Doyle said.

Doyle said education programs about safe sleeping practices for babies had reduced cot deaths from more than 500 in 1988 and some parents now felt that SIDS was no longer a risk.

"It is of grave concern that 20 years on, the statistics seem to reveal there could be a growing level of complacency in the community," she said.

"We think it is because people feel the SIDS thing is sorted."

Doyle said some parents were worried that following advice to put their babies to sleep on their backs would result in their skulls failing to form properly, a condition known as plagiocephaly.

But she said there was no greater risk of this condition from doing so.

SIDS campaigners recommend parents put their babies to sleep on their backs, provide them with a safe mattress and cot, keep them away from cigarette smoke and leave their faces uncovered while sleeping.

It is not known what causes SIDS, but the risk is highest among infants aged between one and six months.


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