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New safe sleep device guidelines to reduce SUDI

8 May 2019

New Ministry of Health resources will help infants have quality sleep, while also protecting them from SUDI (sudden unexpected death in infancy).

“Tragically, SUDI causes the deaths of around 44 babies in Aotearoa New Zealand each year, most from Māori whānau or Pacific fanau. This is a significant inequity,” says Dr Pat Tuohy, the Ministry's Chief Advisor, Child and Youth Health.

“These guidelines are part of a range of measures to help combat SUDI. Annually, $5.1 million is being allocated for supplying safe sleep devices and for providing access to SUDI support, such as whānau education programmes."

“District Health Boards are contracted by the Ministry to distribute about 8,500 devices each year, including wahakura and pēpi pods, with individual DHBs deciding which are most suitable for its population."

“Safe sleep devices such as wahakura are taonga: gifts to whānau that keep their most precious treasure, their tamariki, safe. Many safe sleep devices are made by traditional weavers (kairaranga) or by whānau who are guided through the process by those same weavers, which makes them all the more special."

“Funding for safe sleep devices and SUDI prevention education programmes comes through the Ministry of Health’s National SUDI Prevention Programme to make sure safe sleeping environments become the norm.”

The Ministry has today published two new guidelines to help whānau, people working in health and social services, and health professionals to better protect babies from SUDI."

The first publication National Safe Sleep Device Quality Specification Guidelines helps people know what to look for in a safe sleep device, such as a wahakura and pepi pod and provides information on how to use each device safely. The second publication National SUDI Prevention Needs assessment and care planning guide recommends strategies and advice for protecting babies from SUDI.

“Our health system plays a huge role in improving the wellbeing of tamariki in Aotearoa New Zealand, making sure all children have the health they need to thrive. This is a key Government and Ministry priority,” says Dr Tuohy.

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