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These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright Anne Diamond Twenty-five years ago the TV presenter Anne Diamond lost her baby son Sebastian to cot death.

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But out of that very public tragedy came a positive outcome. Her resulting campaign urging parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs has been credited with drastically reducing the number of sudden infant deaths in the UK. The 12th of July was Diamond's eldest son Oliver's fourth birthday. A party was planned for later in the day and her then husband Mike Hollingsworth remembers waking up feeling grateful that Sebastian, a "robust, smiley baby", hadn't woken early for his bottle.

He went out into their garden and was clearing away toys in preparation for a birthday party, when he heard Diamond screaming. Diamond still feels horror when she relives that day. It was stone cold.

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  • The rest of the day passed in a blur, with police officers coming to the house, friends arriving to help and Sebastian's body being taken away for tests. Soon after the police arrived, a gaggle of reporters took up residence outside the family's house.

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  • Within 30 minutes of the death being reported, it was being broadcast in TV news bulletins. In the midst of this, the family found time to sing "Happy birthday" to their four-year-old son, before he opened his presents. Her tragedy provoked intense media interest - to the extent she and her husband were chased by a photographer on the way to the funeral parlour to see their dead son. Distressing photographs taken of the family grieving at Sebastian's funeral were shown as examples of press intrusion during the Leveson Inquiry.

    Image caption Anne Diamond was at the height of her fame in the early 90s. However, within days, Diamond realised her fame could be a way to ensure her son had a legacy, to stop his death being in vain. She said she rapidly became angry on Sebastian's behalf.

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    I didn't like the apathy, I didn't like the complacency But for decades, experts said infants should sleep on their tummies - and thousands are believed to have died as a result. The practice was originally popularised by s parenting expert Dr Benjamin Spock, who wrote a best-selling childcare manual which said it could prevent reflux. Four-month-old Sebastian had been placed on his tummy to go to sleep, as health professionals advised at the time.

    Archive Household cots This product safety standard sets out requirements and tests for materials, design, construction, performance and labelling of household cots. Very young babies need contact with their parents to be able to relax and fall asleep.

    Diamond began to investigate research into sudden infant death syndrome SIDS and about a week after her son's death visited the Foundation for the Study for Sudden Infant Death, now known as the Lullaby Trust. It was there she heard the words "sleep position" for the first time in connection with cot death.

    Image copyright Anne Diamond Image caption The presenter realised her fame could be a way to ensure her son had a legacy The death of Diamond's baby had happened to coincide with research being published for the first time in the Netherlands, New Zealand and the UK, which showed conclusively that putting babies to sleep on their backs was a major factor in reducing infant mortality.

    She also discovered a paper had been published in New Zealand following a nationwide study of more than 2, infants over three years which found infants placed on their backs to sleep were at the lowest risk of SIDS. Within weeks Diamond flew out to the country.

    I was just a famous woman, I knew I had to get the British medical establishment to change its mind. They said they would look at the data. From that meeting a working party was set up to advise the government. Having secured the support of health professionals in the UK, she began her Back to Sleep Campaign, having raised funding for advertising and enlisted parenting charity the National Childbirth Trust NCT to drive home the message that babies should be put to sleep on their backs.

    Diamond said one of the most shocking discoveries she made was that if she had been living in Bristol, she probably would have been advised to put her baby to sleep on his back, as the city was part of a control group testing out the new theory. Image caption Diamond started work on her campaign soon after the death of her son She said: I just think 'why didn't I live in Bristol? This fell to in , the year after the Back to Sleep campaign launched in Because she was a celebrity, a public figure, people were shocked and hurt for Anne, she was a successful journalist, she was able to mobilise the media and politicians very successfully.

    Image caption A year after the Back to Sleep campaign, the number of SIDS cases fell from 1, in to in Diamond said she regarded the Back to Sleep campaign as Sebastian's legacy, but added: When you look at it my baby died at a time a breakthrough was being made. I'm terribly proud of the campaign. I'm very proud of the role the media played in it.



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