What are the causes? No one knows yet why these babies die. Researchers think there are likely to be a number of different causes, or that a combination of factors affect a baby at a vulnerable stage of development. For example exposure to maternal smoking before birth may affect the development of important parts of the brainstem, making the baby more vulnerable. Research has shown that certain babies are more at risk, namely boys, premature and low birth-weight babies. The vast majority of cot deaths happen to babies aged under six months and there is a peak occurrence at two to three months. Cot death can happen to any family, but it is more likely to happen in families living in difficult circumstances. Since the introduction of the “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1991 the number of babies dying has fallen by around 80 per cent. However, cot death still claims the lives of 5 babies every week in the UK. How can it be prevented? To reduce the risk of cot death: place your baby on the back to sleepcut smoking during pregnancy – in both mothers and fathersdo not let anyone smoke in the same room as your babykeep your baby’s head uncovered - place your baby with feet to the foot of the cot to prevent wriggling down under the coversuse of a baby sleeping bag avoids the possibility of head coveringif your baby is unwell seek medical advice promptlynever sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchairbreastfeed your baby for at least the first few weeks – the longer the betterparents should not sleep with their baby in their bed if either partner: is a smoker, even if they never smoked in bed or in their home; has been drinking alcohol; takes medication or drugs that make them drowsy; feels very tired. Bed sharing should be avoided if a baby was born prematurely, with a low birth weight or has a high temperature.Ensure your baby receives all scheduled immunisations – immunisation may help reduce the risk of cot death The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot in the parents’ bedroom for the first six months. Inheritance patterns and prenatal diagnosis Inheritance patternsNone. The risk of cot death is slightly increased in subsequent infants in families in which an infant has died, but there is no clear pattern of inheritance for most families Prenatal diagnosisNone. Is there support? Lullaby Trust Helpline: 0808 802 6869Office: 020 7802 3200Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite: lullabytrust.org.uk The Foundation is a Registered Charity in England and Wales No. 262191, established in 1971. It is the UK’s leading baby charity working to prevent sudden infant deaths and promote baby health. The Foundation achieves its aims through funding research, supporting families, promoting safe infant care advice to parents and professionals and working with professionals to improve investigations when a baby dies. In particular, it runs CONI (Care Of the Next Infant) with the NHS, to support bereaved families when they have subsequent babies. The Foundation has a network of trained befrienders and produces a range of publications including the leaflet ‘When a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly’. Group details last confirmed September 2015. Scottish Cot Death Trust Tel: 0141 357 3946Email: email@example.comWebsite: scottishcotdeathtrust.org The Trust is a Registered Charity in Scotland No. SC003458. It provides support for families affected by the loss of a baby to cot death. The Trust raises funds for research, and educates the public and health care professionals about cot death and ways of reducing the risks. Group details last updated March 2016.