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Government sets cot death reduction target

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/06/2017

The government has set a target and announced a plan to dramatically reduce the number of cot deaths in New Zealand.

The Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy rate is 0.7 in every 1000 babies born and 1.59 for every 1000 Maori babies.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman wants it to come down to 0.1 in every 1000 births, which would mean cutting the rate from 44 deaths a year to six, by 2025 - a reduction of 86 per cent.

"We know that babies are at the greatest risk of SUDI in their first 10 months, and that rates are higher for Maori babies," he said on Tuesday.

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

The government is putting an extra $2 million into the programme, taking its annual budget to $5m.

From September, safe sleep baby boxes or wahakura will be provided to families that need them.

Dr Coleman said although it was known that it was safest for a baby to sleep in a bassinette or cot, that didn't happen in some families.

There will be a new anti-smoking programme which he says has been effective in trials.

"More needs to be done to address our SUDI rate, and by adopting this evidence-based approach it's hoped that real and meaningful change can be achieved," he said.

The Greens say they've been campaigning since 2014 for every family with a newborn to have a baby box.

"It's a good step being announced today but it won't protect all babies," said co-leader Metiria Turei.

"Finland has been providing them for all families who want them for 75 years. It's SUDI rate declined and babies lives have been saved."

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