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Cot death is every parent’s nightmare. The unkowingness of its causes leaves many of us terrified – not knowing when or how this tragedy will strike our family. The 2000 SIDS Conference, held in Auckland, New Zealand, sought to bring some answers to such parents. The findings of that conference are important to all parents. They can be summarized as follows:
(1) Passive smoking is a major SIDS determinant. A parent with at least one parent who smokes is 5 times more likely to die from cot death as one who’s parents are non-smokers. Dr. Joyce Epstein of the British Foundation for the Study of Infant Death was moved to say, “if we could remove all smoking from a baby’s environment, we estimate that cot deaths would fall by 61%.”
(2) Babies who suck dummies have half the risk of non suckers. Researchers don’t know why this. The statistics, however, are quite conclusive – sucking dummies seems to ward off cot death.
(3) Sleeping with your baby will reduce the likelihood of SIDS. This finding actually reverses the belief that was held a few years ago. Recent studies have shown that having baby in bed with you appears to regulate the breathing patterns and heart rate and synchronize them with your own.
(4) Don’t let baby sleep on his stomach. Risk of SIDS is 3 times greater for babies who sleep on their stomachs than for those placed on their backs.

The experts are still at a loss as to just what actually causes an otherwise healthy baby to stop breathing. Previous theories – pillow suffocation, cows milk, bed clothing suffocation, - have been systematically rejected. The current position is that there is no single cause of cot death. All of the above factors have, however, been identified as determining factors. The wise course, then, would be to take the above 4 pointers on board. Then we will be confident that we have done everything possible to prevent the tragedy of cot death from visiting itself upon our family.