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Smoking a major risk factor in unexplained sudden infant death syndrome

PHW are calling for the Welsh Government to help new parents quit smoking Credit: PA

Smoking is heavily linked to unexplained sudden infant death syndrome, that's according to a new report published today by Public Health Wales.

The study found that in 45 cases of sudden infant deaths in Wales, more than half of those occurred in smoking households.

The report also shows other known risk factors were associated with the deaths, such as premature birth, low birth weight, younger maternal age and parents drinking alcohol in the hours before death.

Meanwhile, a high proportion of the deaths were in areas of high deprivation and poor housing conditions.

Public Health Wales says this shows that despite a significant drop in cases in the past 25 years, more can still be done to reduce the number of unexplained deaths.

“While great strides have been made in reducing unexplained sudden infant deaths in Wales, the fact so many of the deaths are linked to known risk factors suggests many more could be prevented.

“In particular, the rate of smoking among parents was alarmingly high and the importance of a smoke free environment for young babies cannot be overestimated."

– Dr Paul Davis, Consultant Paediatrician at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Following the study, Public Health Wales are calling for...

  • Families with new babies to receive advice on the risks of sudden death syndrome.

  • Support to help young mothers quit smoking during pregnancy.

  • Social housing to be reviewed to ensure conditions are adequate for young families.

  • Strategies to reduce low birth weight and premature births.

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Accident and Emergency units in Wales 'under siege'

The number of people waiting more than four hours to be seen at a Welsh accident and emergency unit has soared to its highest level since 2009.

The target is 95% within that time period - but the rate in December was just 81%, according to official figures released today.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon has said that longer waits at A&E are "disastrous" for the ambulance service, and that is having a "major impact" on the police force, which has had to take many people to hospital in recent moths.

Dr Aruni Sen, a consultant in emergency medicine at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, told us: "we are under siege - the whole world is upon our door - and we just can't cope."

Watch full coverage from Wales at Six:

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