The national research body into sudden infant death syndrome (Sids) has expressed concern that the number of tragedies could rise because the HSE has stopped printing the Reduce the Risk of Sids advice leaflets for parents.
The National Paediatric Mortality Register (NPMR) says it is being “inundated” with calls from health and childcare workers looking for the leaflets which contain guidelines for parents and caregivers on safe sleep practices for babies.
However, it says the HSE stopped printing the leaflets because of cost-saving measures in 2012 and the NPMR depleted its stockpile just over a year ago.
Cliona McGarvey, senior researcher and manager with the NPMR, said: “The booklet is no longer in print and stocks are now depleted.
“This could have an effect on Sids rates in the future because parents may not be aware of the guidelines,” said Dr McGarvey.
The ongoing intervention initiative, commonly known as the Back-to-Sleep campaign, advises parents that the safest sleeping arrangement for infants is on their back, in a cot in their parents’ or caregivers’ room, for the first six months. It also advises against exposure to tobacco smoke, both during and after pregnancy.
This campaign resulted in a reduction in the number of infants dying from Sids in Ireland from an average of 134 cases per year in the 1980s and early 90s, to under 30 deaths per year today.
In a statement, the HSE said:
“The HSE has consolidated the important child health and baby care information provided to new parents into an updated and redesigned version of the Caring for your Baby and Child Series.
“These three substantial booklets have been updated.”
The new books will be available before summer 2015.
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