Final message from coroner

For drugs stories - Coroner Roger Whittaker
For drugs stories - Coroner Roger Whittaker

A RETIRING coroner has made his last message a warning to parents of the devastating dangers of co-sleeping with newborns.

Roger Whittaker, who has been overseeing inquests in Calderdale for the last 15 years, says the number of deaths linked to co-sleeping is too high.

There are around 300 sudden infant deaths in the UK every year. Of those, 17 are in West Yorkshire.

He said the safest place for babies under six months to sleep is in a cot in their parents’ room.

“Even though the numbers of sudden infant deaths are reducing, 17 each year in West Yorkshire is still far too high,” said Mr Whittaker.

“The risk of infant death is heightened when parents smoke, consume alcohol, drugs or some medications or are very tired.

“Babies sleeping on a sofa or in a car seat for a long period of time are also at risk.

“Baby deaths are very distressing for everyone and I want to ensure that parents of newborns are listening to the advice that is out there and taking simple measures to keep their child as safe as possible.”

The number of baby deaths has reduced since the Back to Sleep campaign was launched nearly 20 years ago.

The message was to put babies to sleep on their backs with their feet at the foot of the cot or crib.

Dr Sophie Egerton, public health registrar, said: “A baby’s airway can be blocked if its chin is pushed into the chest. By sleeping in a cot, it provides a flat and firm surface which prevents the baby’s head from being forced into its chest.”