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SIDS Preventative Measures Widely Supported


11 August 2000

SIDS Preventative Measures Widely Supported

KEY health professionals working with children are unanimous that the best approach to prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is to follow existing guidelines.

Key messages established from New Zealand and international research, and supported by documents such as the UK Department of Health's recent Limerick Report, have made a significant impact on SIDS around the world.

The messages are:

- sleeping babies on their backs reduces the risk of SIDS - having a smokefree pregnancy and a smokefree home reduces the risk of SIDS - if you smoke, or smoked during pregnancy, sleeping baby in his or her own bed reduces the risk of SIDS - breastfeeding baby, if possible, may reduce the risk of SIDS.

These four actions parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS are supported by the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Commissioner for Children, the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society and the Child Health Research Foundation. Organisations representing General Practitioners, Nurses and Midwives also support the messages.

"The Ministry of Health acknowledges that scientific research remains the best way to determine the cause and remedies for SIDS which remains one of the major causes of death for children under one year of age," Dr Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor Child and Youth Health, said.

"These key messages are based on a review of the best available evidence."

"We would urge parents to take every possible precaution to prevent SIDS. The lives of hundreds of New Zealand babies have been saved by parents following these simple recommendations. Parents using other, unproven methods to reduce the risk of SIDS, should not ignore the key messages, but should discuss their concerns with their General Practitioner, midwife or Child Health nurse, " Dr Tuohy said.

Any public airing of ideas on the causes of SIDS needs to be responsible and take into account the risk of increasing public concern.

"It is important to separate the debate about causes from the evidence about prevention. It is prevention which saves lives," Dr Tuohy said.

"We know that sleeping babies on their backs is remarkably effective in reducing SIDS. Similarly we know that there are a number of other risk factors such as smoking in pregnancy and around the baby."

"Over time additional health messages are likely to emerge as we gain more understanding of the causes of sudden death in infancy. Better information about the baby's environment may also help us to separate out preventable causes of sudden death in babies."

The Ministry of Health is committed to informing the public about any new scientific research which could assist in reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

For more information contact:

Selina Gentry, Media Advisor Tel: 496 2483/ 025 277 5411 Internet address: www.moh.govt.nz

Other organisations to contact on this issue include: Commissioner for Children Bronwen Clifton tel: 04 4711410

Paediatric Society Professor Barry Taylor tel: 03 4791200, 021 616 229

Child Health Research Foundation Lee Schoushkoff tel: 09-828-5155, 021-832-732

Plunket Dr Russell Wills tel: 025 521 408

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Brenda Wilson tel: 04 494 6385 Eileen Brown tel: 043850847

NZMA Dr Pippa MacKay tel: 03 3516198 (w) 025 484 718

College of Midwives Karen Guilliland tel: 03 3772732

HFA Christine Field tel: 04 495 4334


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