Parents of underweight babies should be given more information on reducing the risk of cot death, the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) has said.

Babies weighing less than 5.5lb are more five times more likely to suffer cot death than those of normal weight, latest research has discovered.

And although deaths have fallen by 70 per cent since parents began following risk reduction advice in the 1980s, around 300 deaths a year occur. The FSID said 316 UK babies died in 2009 from sudden infant death.

Other risk factors included the baby's sex (boys are higher risk than girls), child of a single parent and teenage pregnancy.

FSID's chief executive, Francine Bates, said: "It's well known that parental smoking increases a baby's risk of cot death but babies who are born underweight are also an extremely vulnerable group, particularly during the first month of life, so it's vital that their parents are given advice on how to reduce their risk.

"Low birthweight is not always the result of smoking during pregnancy and babies are born small for a variety of reasons.

"All mothers whose babies are born under 2.5kg should follow the recommendations to sleep their babies in a separate cot, in a room with them, for the first six months."

Posted by Robert Mair on 19.8.11 Please send your comments on this article to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com