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Committee Says More Needs to be Done to Prevent Infant Death

The Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC) is calling for the Government’s SUDI Prevention Programme to better serve whānau and families to prevent babies dying from sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

The CYMRC today released a special report on SUDI. The report finds the number of SUDI deaths has fallen greatly, from 250 per year in the 1980s to 44 in 2015. However, this reduction was not equitable across the whole population.

The report shows:

• there were 44 deaths in 2015 and it is estimated that 37 of those deaths could have been prevented

• babies living in the most deprived areas of New Zealand are more likely to die from SUDI compared to babies living in the least deprived areas

• Māori babies are almost seven times more likely to die from SUDI and Pacific babies are almost four times more likely than non-Maori, non-Pacific babies

• mothers under 25 years of age are also much more likely to experience the loss of a baby due to SUDI.

The CYMRC says the most significant way of preventing SUDI is to make sure every baby is in a safe sleep position and environment without bed sharing, and is raised in a smokefree home.

‘While New Zealand has made clear strides to reduce the number of SUDI deaths, too many of our babies are still dying,’ says CYMRC chair Dr Felicity Dumble.

The CYMRC says the Government has taken positive steps recently to help prevent SUDI.

‘The announcement by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman that all at-risk families will receive a pepi pod/wahakura is very heartening,’ says Dr Dumble.

‘The CYMRC knows whānau and families living in higher deprivation areas often face significant challenges in providing their babies with a warm, dry home and a safe sleep space, so this is a very positive step.’

CYMRC is calling for:

• a national SUDI Prevention Programme to include tailored approaches for populations most at risk of experiencing a SUDI death, including smoking cessation services

• more supportive environments to be created for pregnant women and whānau and families with babies so they have adequate income and housing support they need to live in warm homes that are free from crowding

• improved whānau and family care following the death of a baby, so compassionate and appropriate care and services are received.

Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI): Special Report is available here.

The CYMRC operates under the umbrella of the Health Quality & Safety Commission. It reviews the deaths of children and young people so these deaths can be prevented in the future.


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