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Call for more to avoid sudden infant death

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/06/2017

The number of cot deaths in New Zealand has fallen significantly over the past three decades, but more needs to be done, according to a report.

Among the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee's recommendations is a more tailored approach for those most at risk of experiencing a sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

The CYMRC, in a report released on Thursday, says there were 44 SUDI cases in 2015, compared with 250 a year in the 1980s.

But the committee, which operates under the Health Quality and Safety Commission, says the reduction was not equitable across the population.

It also says most of the 2015 deaths - 37 out of 44 - are estimated to have been preventable.

The report found that babies living in the most deprived areas were more likely to die from SUDI.

It said Maori babies were almost seven times more at risk, and Pacific babies almost four times, than non-Maori and non-Pacific infants.

As well, mothers under 25 were more likely to experience the loss of a baby due to SUDI.

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

The committee has called for:

* The national SUDI Prevention Programme to include tailored approaches for populations most at risk, including smoking cessation services;

* Adequate support for pregnant women and families with babies to live in warm homes that are free from crowding;

* Improved care after the death of a baby.

The committee says the most significant way of preventing SUDI is to ensure every child is in a safe sleeping position, is not sharing a bed and is in a smokefree home.

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