DIRE warnings over the dangers of allowing babies to share their parents’ bed appear to finally be hitting home in Lancashire.

Health professionals have repeatedly urged mothers and fathers to avoid the temptation of letting their infants sleep alongside or on top of them.

Medics say that the practice seriously heightens the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as the youngsters can overheat, or in the worst instances, be suffocated unwittingly by one of their parents.

But new figures reported by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust show that the overall number of similar deaths countywide has been slowly decreasing.

Bridgett Welch, the trust’s associate safeguarding director, said in a report: “It appears that this reduction may be as a result of the decreasing numbers of deaths in relation to safer sleep.”

Since 2008, the trust has hosted a Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood service (SUDC) and the county has hosted a conference, inviting the views of childcare specialists from across the UK.

While there were 13 deaths, attributed to unsafe or inappropriate sleeping, in 2015-16, this had dropped to eight the following year and just five by 2017-18.

Ms Welch added: “Since the inception of the service, the number of unexpected deaths the service has responded to each year has remained fairly consistent. However, this year has seen a slight decrease in the number of deaths.

“This is almost the lowest number of deaths, pan-Lancashire, recorded to date.”

One death per week, on average, is dealt with by the SUDC, with the two senior nurses involved winning praise for the sensitive way in which they offer support and advice to bereaved parents.

Eight child deaths were recorded in Blackburn with Darwen during 2017-18, though there were two more, at 15, in East Lancashire, covering Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley and Rossendale, over the same period.

But it has also emerged that four more children have died as a result of hanging in Lancashire, which brings the total to nine countywide.

The SUDC team will be asked to contribute to a Lancashire and South Cumbria review into such suicides.