Smoking may cause up to 60 per cent of cot deaths, scientists have revealed, writes Aisling Irwin.
Babies whose parents both smoke heavily during and after the pregnancy are four times more likely to die from cot death.
A baby whose mother smokes during pregnancy is just over twice as likely to die from cot death than on average.
Cot deaths plunged from 1,500 to 600 between 1989 and 1992. This followed a campaign that linked the deaths to allowing a baby to sleep on its back. But deaths per year have now bottomed out at about 500.
Iain Smith, paediatrician at Leeds University and Peter Fleming, professor of infant health and developmental physiology at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, in Bristol, compared 200 babies who died with 800 who did not.
They found that death was more likely if the baby had been exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb or afterwards, or if someone else in the household smoked.