The use of a safe sleep calculator in primary care to increase awareness and reduce the incidence of SUDI

Professor Ed Mitchell
University of Auckland

What is the problem and who does it affect?

A pioneering study into sudden unexpected death infancy (SUDI), by Prof Ed Mitchell, in the late 1980s, achieved great success, saving an estimated 3,000 babies in the time since it was implemented. However, we still lose around 50 babies to SUDI each year.

Families from disadvantaged backgrounds are nearly six times more likely to lose a child from SUDI. Maori and Pacific families are also dramatically overrepresented in the figures.

The vast majority of SUDI deaths are preventable by disseminating knowledge about the interplay between various risk factors associated with SUDI.


What is the project hoping to achieve?

With over 30 years in this field, Prof Mitchell has collated a large body of research, which he has used to develop a SUDI Safe Sleep Calculator (SSC).

The SSC can give an individual risk rating based on a number of these risk factors that primary care teams can then support the family to address.

For the SSC to be effective, we need to know if primary care providers are willing to adopt it in practice, and if so, whether or not the knowledge imparted will be retained, and implemented, by at-risk families.

Pilot data from primary care providers and families, on the usage of the SSC, will be used to further refine it before a more comprehensive trial in 200 at-risk families.

The families chosen (determined by an initial SSC assessment) will be followed up to assess whether or not there has been a change in the risk factors they addressed with their primary care providers.

The SUDI Safe Sleep Calculator is already capable of being integrated into current primary care computer systems, and once the initial pilot intervention is complete, rapid roll-out of it to the majority of primary health care providers will be possible.