HC Deb 21 April 1989 vol 151 cc343-4W
Mr. Beggs

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment of the research and development of a monitoring alarm into the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome by Clifton Towers Products Ltd. has been carried out by his Department; and whether Her Majesty's Government will financially support further research and development of this invention.

Mr. John Morris

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has on the work done by Clifton Towers Products Ltd. at Port Talbot into cot deaths; what requests have been made to his Department for the funding of research and development; and what parallel or similar research and development is being carried out with the support of his Department.

Mr. Freeman

Clifton Tower Products Ltd. contacted this Department in April 1988 to say that it had developed a monitor which would help save many babies' lives by triggering an alarm when the baby's temperature rose or fell by 2' from the normal. In subsequent correspondence they said that the alarm would prevent a significant proportion of sudden infant deaths. The evidence for this claim was requested. In September, material on the association between sudden infant death syndrome and temperature was submitted together with a request for unspecified financial support for the development of the alarm. (A subsequent letter requested £120,000 for further research.)

I understand that prior to, and during, this correspondence Clifton Towers was also in discussion with the Welsh Office. The results of these discussions were that, while no assistance was provided for research and development work, assistance was given by the Welsh Office for market research and associated activities under the business improvement services scheme (BIS), and the establishment of a manufacturing facility has been aided under the regional development scheme (RDG).

Officials have taken expert medical advice. The conclusion is that while, as we already knew, there is an association between some sudden infant deaths and temperature, the nature of the relationship is unknown. We are discussing further with the Medical Research Council what is known about the relationship between temperature and infant mortality and morbidity. On the basis of the conclusions of those discussions we will be able to consider the merits of a scientific evaluation of the usefulness and effectiveness of temperature monitors/ alarms.