The campaign to reduce cot deaths that took place in the 1990s did not reach deprived communities, a study by scientists at Cambridge University has found.

The 'Back to Sleep' campaign was launched in 1991 and aimed to raise awareness of sudden infant death syndrome or cot death, as well as encouraging parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs.

Scientists looked at cases of sudden infant death in Scotland from 1985 to 2008. Although the campaign was successful in reducing the number of cot deaths - down from one in 500 in the 1980s to one in 2,000 at present - the authors said it took up to 15 years to reach a "low and stable rate" in deprived areas.

Professor Gordon Smith, from Cambridge University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said: "The importance of this study is that it shows that any future campaigns to modify environmental risk factors for stillbirth and infant death should be carefully designed so that the message is delivered to people living in areas of high deprivation more effectively."

As well as placing their baby on its back to sleep, parents are advised to avoid smoking in the same room as their baby, prevent their baby from getting too hot, and place them in a crib or cot in the same room for the first six months.

The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.

Story posted by Robert Mair on 21/3/2012