Monitoring mortality and risk factors for SUDI

Emeritus Professor Ed Mitchell, University of Auckland

Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) includes first-year deaths classified as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ill-defined and unknown cause of mortality, or accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

The Safe Sleep programme decreased first-year infant deaths by 29%

Between 2009 and 2015, first-year mortality decreased by 29% in New Zealand. This was attributed to the Safe Sleep programme.

This programme recommends that babies sleep in their own safe sleep space in the parental bedroom. Direct bed sharing is discouraged, but placing babies in wahakura or Pepi-pod safe sleep devices (SSDs) enables the baby to bed share safely with the parents. However, supplies of SSD were limited.

Since 2017 however, SUDI deaths have unexpectedly increased

In 2017, a national sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) prevention programme, which provided SSDs, was funded by the Ministry of Health. Unexpectedly, first-year mortality has since increased, especially for Maori infants.

Professor Mitchell is leading a study to find the cause

Professor Mitchell’s study aims to understand what might be causing this increase, to inform the national SUDI prevention programme.

The cases and prevalence of risk factors will be compared with that collected in the nationwide SUDI case-control study, which  Professor Mitchell and his team conducted from 2012 to 2015.

Cure Kids is funding this much-needed study

By funding Professor Mitchell’s study, Cure Kids is helping to build knowledge that can be used to modify the SUDI prevention programme and reduce SUDI mortality.