11 Nov 2011 | Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee
The last 20 years have seen the dramatic reduction in the toll from Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) in New Zealand from 200 to 60 deaths per annum. The reduction in mortality stems largely from the recognition that placing babies to sleep on their backs reduced the risk of death, as was highlighted in the New Zealand case control study in 1992.
It can be calculated that approximately 3000 infants have survived who would otherwise have died over these 20 years. The fact that 60 deaths continue to occur annually is a major tragedy, however. Among the industrialised nations, New Zealand has the highest rate of death from SUDI.
In this NZ Medical Journal article, Dr Nick Baker looks at the risks associated with SUDI.
He says information to reduce SUDI needs to be provided to families in the form of public health messages, antenatally, at birth and during postnatal and ongoing infant care. Health services need to model sleeping practices that reduce risks in all settings. When delivering information, messages need to be clear, consistent and take into account the health literacy and the reality of the lives lived by people from the deprived communities where risks cluster.
The full article can be found here. Thanks to the NZ Medical Journal for permission to reproduce the article.