17 June 2015

S4M-12916 Scottish Cot Death Trust

The Deputy Presiding Officer (John Scott): The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-12916, in the name of Gil Paterson, on the 30th anniversary of the Sudden Cot Death Trust. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament acknowledges that 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Cot Death Trust; understands that the aims of the trust have remained consistent during this time; notes that it is committed to funding medical research in the hope of finding an answer to why babies and young children die, reducing the number of deaths by promoting the “reduce the risk” message and supporting people who have experienced such a tragedy; believes that it carries out vitally important work, not only by raising public awareness and through the use of multiagency professionals, but also in its support for parents, sometimes for years, who have lost a healthy child without explanation; understands that the trust works in partnership with NHS boards to provide the Next Infant Support Programme for bereaved parents in Clydebank and Milngavie and across Scotland who go on to have further children; believes that the trust offers apnoea monitors as well as a bespoke support service throughout pregnancy and for the first year after birth; notes that it has worked with the Scottish Government in producing the leaflet, Reduce the Risk, which highlights safe sleeping positions and the associated factors that are considered to raise the risk of sudden unexpected infant death; further notes that the leaflet provides information such as the view that, in the first six months of life, the safest place for the babies to sleep is in their own cot in the parental bedroom; understands that ways to reduce risk include avoiding sleeping on a sofa or chair with a baby, not smoking during pregnancy or around a baby after birth, avoiding sharing a bed with a baby if either parent is excessively tired, is a smoker, has drunk alcohol or has taken any medication that might cause drowsiness and avoiding letting a baby sleep on a surface that is neither firm nor flat, including infant swings, beanbags, bouncer chairs and infant car seats; understands that, although such seats can be fitted onto a pram chassis, they are not suitable places for infants to sleep; commends the trust on ensuring that these points are the main thrust of its 30th anniversary message to all parents, and wishes it every success in promoting this.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

Let me start by thanking Gil Paterson for bringing this important subject to Parliament. There are very few of us who will not, at some stage in our life, meet a death; it is an inevitable part of being here in the first place. When the death is that of a child—of someone who is younger than we are—we feel that death most acutely. That is not simply because it reminds us of our own mortality; it is also because, of course, we experience the loss of someone who is precious to us.

One of my personal interests is genealogy. I happen to have been doing a longitudinal study of the St Giles parish in Edinburgh—of which Parliament is just on the edge—of 150 years ago. At that time, 150 years ago, in this relatively well-off parish, 50 per cent of children did not reach the age of 10, and half of those who died, died before the age of one.

Today we have vastly improved our care and our ability to deal with a range of conditions and diseases that affect our young. That fact throws into more stark relief the sudden unexpected and often unexplained deaths that come under the general heading “cot death”. There is no single cause of cot death, and we do not always satisfactorily identify the cause of the death.

As the number of young children who die has diminished, the pain and the sense of guilt that parents can feel when it happens has substantially increased. My father, who was a general practitioner, described bereavement in five stages: denial, which is often very short and in which the person does not accept what has happened; blaming oneself, in which the person blames themselves for something that they did not do; blaming others, because things were not done; depression; and finally accommodation, in which, it is hoped, the person comes to terms with the death and puts the happy memories that they have of the person who departed into some context that they will carry for the rest of their life.

A child even of the briefest period on this earth will leave memories for their parents and for all who have known them. I have not been in the fortunate position of being a father, but I am told that I am a relatively well-trained uncle and now great-uncle, godfather and, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, a great-great-uncle. Although I have not personally experienced fatherhood, I have watched and stood with those who have been parents. I have seen their pride and excitement when they bring in a new life that will take over from those of us who are, perhaps, now contemplating more acutely than we once did our own mortality.

As cot death has become more important as a reason why young people do not make it into adulthood, the importance of having the right kind of support in place has substantially increased. For that reason the Scottish Cot Death Trust is very much to be congratulated for its work. It is draining to support a person who is in mental despair and who has experienced loss. It is expensive, because it takes time to provide counselling to people—not just a pill for a week, but support, often for an extended period.

Over the past 30 years, we have seen the work of the Scottish Cot Death Trust supporting parents across Scotland and, I understand, working with people beyond Scotland. As Gil Paterson’s motion makes clear, in his constituency the trust is supporting the next infant support programme for bereaved parents. The motion mentions bespoke services through pregnancy and for the first year after birth, including the provision of sleep apnoea monitors.

There is one little thing that we need to think about. It is right and proper that we provide advice on how to minimise the occurrence of cot death, and Margaret McCulloch highlighted quite a few of the pieces of advice that exist. However, it is equally important that we reassure parents that it is not their fault that their child dies from cot death. They may have followed all the advice or may not have been aware of some of the advice, but it will almost certainly not—in 99 cases out of 100, and probably more—be the parents’ fault. That is precisely why the Scottish Cot Death Trust has to exist: it must reassure and support parents who do not know what more they could have done, when the answer may be that there was nothing more they could have done.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP