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Warning about the dangers of suffocation, 18/02/14 [W]

A new campaign is being launched today to warn parents about the risk to babies of suffocating or choking on nappy sacks.

Since 2001, at least 11 babies in England and Wales have died as a result of these injuries. With an increasing number of parents using nappy sacks, there is a need to inform and advise parents of the associated risks and to encourage safer use. Young babies under six months old are at greatest risk, however, nappy sacks still pose a serious risk for young children too. Parents generally understand the risks posed by plastic carrier bags, but not of those posed by nappy sacks.

Nappy sacks differ from carrier bags in a number of ways:

  • Individual nappy sacks do not carry a suffocation and choking warning
  •  Nappy sacks are smaller and very lightweight
  • As nappy sacks are flimsy, they can easily cling to a baby’s face as it breathes.  In this situation, babies are unable to pull it away
  • Unlike carrier bags, the nappy sacks are likely to kept within reach of babies and children and within their everyday environment.  For example, near cots, changing areas, bedrooms, prams, buggies and childcare settings
  • Nappy sacks are usually fragranced.

Increasing awareness with parents, carers, practitioners, children’s services and health professionals is crucial for reducing the risks to babies and young children.  Because of this Children in Wales, Public Health Wales and the British Medical Association Cymru Wales are working closely with these sectors and have produced a poster highlighting the dangers and how to prevent them.  This poster will be on display in every GP practice in Wales and we are asking all parents and carers to share this information with their families and friends.

Karen McFarlane, Child Safety Development Officer at Children in Wales stated that “sadly so many parents are unaware of the risks that nappy sacks pose, so we are asking everyone to make sure all of their nappy sacks are completely out of reach at all times.  Removing them from the baby’s bedroom, from their buggy and pram will make a big difference.”

The nappy sack poster  and a leaflet providing advice for parents and carers can be downloaded from the resources section of this website.