Unexplained infant death rate falls to record low, says ONS
The unexplained infant death rate in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level on record, official figures show.
The number of children under one who died from sudden infant death syndrome (Sids) or without a known cause fell to a record 183 in 2017, down 19% on the previous year. This means the unexplained infant mortality rate is 0.27 per 1,000 live births, almost half the rate in 2004, when records began.
In 2004, the number of deaths was 317 and the mortality rate was 0.50 per 1,000 live births.
Rabiya Nasir from the Office for National Statistics, which published the figures, said: “The new low comes after our last set of figures showed an increase between 2015 and 2016, and re-establishes the long-term trend. The fall in unexplained deaths may be due to factors such as fewer expectant mothers smoking and more awareness of safer sleeping practices.”
The previous lowest number of unexplained infant deaths was 195 in 2015. Concerns were raised about the 2016 figures when 219 cases were recorded, the highest number since 2013.
The ONS said the downward trend could be a result of advice and guidance from the NHS, the Welsh government and charities such as the Lullaby Trust, which runs public awareness campaigns on Sids and has helped train health professionals on the subject.
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