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Canterbury Child Health Officials Welcome Special Report

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday, March 22, 2013

Canterbury Child Health Officials Welcome Special Report By The Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee

Canterbury child health officials are welcoming a special report by the Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC) into the accidental suffocation and choking of children.

Nicola Austin, Canterbury District Health Board chief of child health says the report, called Unintentional suffocation, foreign body inhalation and strangulation released this week, provides a tragic reminder to our community of just how dangerous everyday objects like curtain cords, rope, pillows, mattresses and some foodstuffs can be.

“While one accidental death by asphyxiation is one too many, this report is significant because it will help inform Canterbury Health System strategies to avert tragic and avoidable deaths in our communities,” Dr Austin says.

“The take away message for parents and caregivers is they can take simple practical steps to keep young children safe and protect babies from harm while sleeping.”

Dr Clare Doocey, Chairperson of the Canterbury Child and Youth Mortality Review Group says she would like to urge parents and caregivers to be vigilant for strangulation and choking risks to children, and with winter coming to ensure babies have the safest possible sleeping environment

“To protect them during every sleep, babies should be placed on their back with their face clear, close to their parents or caregivers but in their own space and breathing air that is free of smoke,” Dr Doocey says.

The report also recommends further support for vulnerable children, enhancing quit-smoking programmes and greater emphasis on product safety.

Since 2009, 965 Canterbury people have participated in a Sudden Unexpected Death in Infants prevention e-learning programme. The purpose of the programme is to align knowledge, understanding and action on safe sleep for babies. More than1000 portable infant sleep spaces (PSS) have also been distributed to Canterbury communities since 2011, most (800) during the earthquake year.


“The message for us as health care providers is that there is more work to be done,” Dr Doocey says.

“We need to continue with our successful initiatives to increase the already high participation of Canterbury professionals in prevention education as well as looking for new ways to support and raise awareness in our communities of how to provide the best possible home environment.”

ENDS

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