A campaign was launched by the Department of Health late in 1991 to advise mothers how to reduce the risk of cot death. OBJECTIVE--To investigate whether mothers remember receiving this advice, their sources of information, and the advice they were given. SETTING--Questionnaires filled in by mothers of babies born in three maternity units in East Anglia. METHOD--150 mothers of full term babies born throughout 1992 were enrolled. All of them should have received the information. They were sent a questionnaire when their baby was 6 months old. RESULTS--399 (89%) questionnaires were analysable. Sources of information were: television, 72%; magazines, 59%; midwives, 55%; health visitors, 48%; and doctors, 11%. 23% said they received no advice from a health professional about reducing the risk of cot death. Doctors, who had all been informed by the Department of Health, were surprisingly poor at passing on the information. Advice on sleeping position was remembered by 72%, overheating by 60%, and smoking by 35%. Problems in following the advice were reported by only 5% of mothers. CONCLUSIONS--The media was most influential in spreading the new advice. Basic infant care advice is not the preserve of doctors.
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