At least a quarter of the babies dying as unexpected home 'cot deaths' do so from recognizable diseases. A study of the background of such children, compared with age and admission controls, suggests that the disease symptomatology in this group of children differs in no way from children who are successfully treated. The factors leading to the death of these children appear to lie in the general lack of ability of some parents to recognize the importance of symptoms, their negative attitude and inability to avail themselves of health services, and the amount of drive and persistence required to obtain general medical practice services in some areas. There is also the failure of some practitioners to recognize severely ill children.
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