Love Island cot death warning: Doctor left aghast after contestants smother their ‘newborns’ with blankets (and another star sends his baby flying out of its pushchair)
- Last night’s episode saw contestants take part in a task to care for robotic babies
- When it came to bedtime, the ‘babies’ were loosely covered in blankets
- This is a choking hazard and increases the risk of life-threatening overheating
- Some 2.6 million viewers tuned in last night to watch the ITV2 reality series
- Cot death kills around 300 babies in the UK and 3,500 every year in the US
A doctor has warned the parenting task highlighted in last night’s episode of Love Island could put babies at risk of cot death.
Yesterday’s episode of the ITV2 reality series, which was watched by 2.6 million people, had contestants looking after ‘infants’ that cried, and required changing, feeding and comforting.
When it came time to put the ‘newborns’ to bed, the contestants loosely covered the babies in blankets, which has prompted doctors to warn this can cause life-threatening suffocation and strangulation in real life.
Dr Eran Elhaik, who researches cot death at the University of Sheffield, explained to MailOnline that loose sheets are a choking hazard and can cause babies to overheat, which both increase the risk of the condition.
Last night’s episode also saw contestant Josh accidentally pull off the arm of his and girlfriend Kaz’s baby, named Prince Kavana Joshua Denzel.
The boys also took advantage of the girls being out of the villa to hold pram races, which caused Dr Alex to trip, sending his and Alexandra’s baby Ella Louise George flying.
ITV has been approached for comment.
Cot death, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), kills around 300 babies in the UK and 3,500 every year in the US.
A doctor has criticised Love Island over a task that saw contestants care for robotic babies. In last night’s episode contestants, such as the now-eliminated Jack and Laura (pictured), could be seen putting their ‘babies’ to bed covered in loose sheets, despite the risk of cot death
The ‘babies’, which were also left in the 34C Majorca heat without hats, frequently had loose sheets covering their mouths, which puts infants at risk of sudden infant death via suffocation
Contestant Megan, who played parent to Mia Ruby Nelson with her boyfriend Wes, did not take well to being a ‘mother’, complaining of feeling exhausted and questioning how people do it
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WHAT IS COT DEATH AND HOW CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or cot death, is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby.
SIDS kills around 3,500 babies in the US and just under 300 in the UK every year.
It usually occurs within the first six months of an infant’s life and is more common in those born prematurely or of a low birth weight.
The cause of SIDS is unknown, however, it is associated with tobacco smoke, tangled bedding, co-sleeping with parents and breathing obstructions.
Prevent the risk by:
- Placing sleeping babies on their backs
- Keeping babies’ heads uncovered
- Sleeping in the same room as babies for the first six months of their lives
- Using a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in babies’ cribs
- Breastfeeding, if possible
- Smoke during pregnancy or in the same room as a baby
- Sleep on a bed or chair with an infant
- Allow babies to get too hot or cold. Temperatures between 16 and 20C should be comfortable
Source: NHS Choices
Sheets can cause choking and overheating
Dr Elhaik told MailOnline: ‘Swaddling an infant helps to soothe them, if done right.
‘Swaddling is done with a sheet that wraps the infant’s body so that they cannot move.
‘Done wrong, the infant will move, the sheet will unfold and the sheet and blanket will become a choking hazard.
‘That’s problem number one, problem number two is overheating due to the use of blankets, which depends on the season and the heating of the room.’
Love Island is filmed in Majorca, where temperatures peaked at 34C yesterday.
Dr Zeshan Qureshi, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, told MailOnline: ‘Babies should always be placed on their back, with their feet touching the end of the cot.
‘Ideally, blankets should be tucked underneath their arms and should be made of a breathable fabric.
‘The robotic babies on Love Island last night exhibited a number of these risk factors.’
Referring to the above image of the infant in the pram, he added: ‘The baby in the pushchair is at risk of suffocation due to the covering of their mouth and nose by a blanket.’
According to the charity The Lullaby Trust, which raises awareness of SIDS, sheets and bedding are only safe if they are firmly tucked in and not above shoulder height.
Jack and Dani’s ‘baby’ Kimberly was also loosely wrapped in a blanket. Yet Dr Eran Elhaik, from the University of Sheffield, warns this can cause suffocation and life-threatening overheating
Charity The Lullaby Trust claims sheets and bedding are only safe if they are firmly tucked in
Babysitters put infants at risk of cot death
This comes after research released last April suggested babysitters may put infants at risk of cot death by placing them in unsafe sleeping positions.
Newborns who die from SIDS while under the supervision of a childcare worker are more likely to be placed lying on their fronts, a study found.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep on their backs to reduce their risk of overheating or receiving inadequate oxygen to the brain.
Infants who die under the care of a nanny are also more likely to have objects, such as toys and blankets, in their crib, the research adds. Such items raise the risk of suffocation or strangulation.
Study author Dr Rachel Moon, from the University of Virginia, said: ‘If someone else – a babysitter, relative or friend – is taking care of your baby, please make sure that they know to place your baby on their back in a crib and without any bedding.’
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