Govt aims to reduce sudden infant death by 86% in 8 yrs

The Government plans to take steps to dramatically reduce Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced. 

Coleman says, The Government believes in supporting women and families to have healthy babies who grow up to be healthy kids."

The SUDI rate is approximately 0.7 in every 1,000 babies born, and 1.59 for every 1,000 Maori babies born. The goal is 0.1 in every 1,000 births by 2025.

By reducing the overall rate of SUDI by 86 per cent and 94 per cent for Maori by 2025, the number of SUDI deaths would be reduced from 44 to six.

“We know that babies are at the greatest risk of SUDI in their first 10 months and that rates are higher for Maori babies,” says Dr Coleman.

“The National SUDI Prevention Programme will target two of the biggest preventable risks for SUDI, which are being exposed to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and having the baby sharing a bed.

To support this new approach we’re investing an extra $2 million into the Programme, taking its annual budget to $5 million.

The programme will better utilise innovative approaches to reduce smoking, including smoking cessation incentive programmes which have proven effective in trials.

Although evidence shows it’s safest for a baby to sleep in a bassinette or cot, however we know that in some families this doesn’t happen. That’s why we’re supporting these families to have their baby sharing a bed as safely as possible."

Coleman adds that in September the Government will provide safe sleeping devices or wahakura to families needing them during the baby's first year of life. 

“As some DHBs already have a similar scheme in place, the new programme will now be nationally coordinated. We expect every family who needs this form of assistance will be identified and supported to keep their baby safe during sleep.

Māori Health organisation Hāpai Te Hauora earlier in the year welcomed new evidence that shows wahakura as a safe alternative to a bassinet. The researchers from Otago University and Otago Polytechnic found those using wahakura also had twice the level of breastfeeding.