The Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC) welcomes the newborn enrolment policy announced by Health Minister Tony Ryall last week.
The new policy will mean babies will be registered with their general practitioner soon after birth. Currently there are few newborns enrolled at six weeks of age and less than half are registered with a doctor at 12 weeks of age.
Under the new policy, parents will be able to nominate a GP at the birthing unit, rather than waiting for the first doctor’s appointment. This will ensure continuity of care from the lead maternity carers to GPs, a move that the CYMRC recommended in its 2009 report on sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).
CYMRC Chair, Dr Nick Baker says, “Newborn enrolment is a great tool which will connect babies to health care, help reduce the risks of SUDI, and secure high levels of timely immunisation coverage.”
New Zealand has the highest rate of deaths from SUDI among industrialised nations with 60 babies dying each year. Many of these babies die from suffocation in their place of sleep. Improved care during the first few weeks of life will help identify babies at risk and allow safe sleep practices to be put in place, ultimately preventing many unnecessary deaths.
More information on the CYMRC’s work including the committee’s report to the Minister of Health on SUDI can be found on the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s website.