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Cot Deaths

Volume 175: debated on Tuesday 3 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what Government support is presently given to the study of sudden infant death syndrome; what plans he has to increase it; and if he will make a statement.

The Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry have jointly accepted the responsibility for examining the claim that chemical emissions from cot mattresses may be a contributory factor in sudden infant death syndrome. The Department of Health has requested the Medical Research Council (MRC) to commission a critical review of the research literature on sudden infant death syndrome.The MRC is the main agency through which the Government support biomedical and clinical research in the United Kingdom. The MRC receives its grant in aid from the Department of Education and Science. In 1988–89, the latest financial year for which figures are available, the MRC spent approximately £62,000 on research into sudden infant death syndrome. In the same year, the MRC spent a further £310,000 on other research which may contribute in part to an understanding of sudden infant death syndrome.


To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made on the appointment of a paediatric pathologist for each regional health authority to support cot death research.

Information from regional health authority short-term plans for 1990–91 submitted last February shows that there is at least one paediatric pathologist in post in 10 regions: in two others there are vacant posts which are being advertised and in each of the remaining two regions the health authorities plan to introduce a funded post by April 1991.