Professor Peter Fleming OBE
Professor Peter Fleming OBE is a world authority on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and is responsible for changing NHS recommendations in relation to newborn sleeping positions, which has subsequently saved worldwide 100,000 newborns lives.
Professor Fleming was a co-author of the latest UK research into the dangers of car seats.
In the late 1980's SIDS was known as "Cot Death" and was running at epidemic levels in the world with a rate up to 1 baby in every 250 suffering SIDS in some of the richest countries and a much higher rate in the poorer countries.
Professor Fleming and his team evaluated the causes of SIDS in the Bristol area of the UK and convinced his local authority to undergo a trial in their area where newborns would be placed on their backs instead of their front. At the time this was considered very high risk as the theory was that newborns placed on their front would not choke if they vomited.
Of course, he met with lots of opposition and very much "put his head on the line" because if the SIDS figures increased his career may well have been over (as well of course, having to carry the burden that some newborns suffered SIDS in the cause of science).
However, the trial was a huge success and SIDS levels feel dramatically. Soon the NHS embraced the same advice across the UK and SIDS levels started to fall dramatically. The SIDS level in 2013 reached 1 newborn in every 3000 a drop of about 80% from the early 1990's figures.
But that still means that about 260 newborns suffer SIDS the UK every year and many more pass (that are not included in the SIDS statistics) …. the most common cause of death is respiratory, heart or breathing issues.
Every-time there is a infant death a coroner has to investigate the cause and sometimes this means a public inquest which may get local press coverage. On most occasions, however a cause of death is established and sometimes this is recorded as "positional asphyxiation" this being most common in sitting devices such as a car seat.
Without question Professor Fleming is a hero in the medical scientific world and has been recognised as one of the UK's top 50 scientists. The fact that he has been involved in research concerning car seats is enough for many to know where his thoughts now lay in eliminating SIDS and newborn deaths completely.
Further links of interest are here: