Evaluating a programme of risk assessment and targeted care for infants at higher risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)

Dr Christine McIntosh

Every year between 40 and 50 babies die from sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) in New Zealand. Typically, a quarter of these deaths are from the Counties Manukau Health (CMH) area. Māori and Pacific families are most affected by SUDI.

An algorithm that predicts SUDI risk and identifies needs

The Survive and Thrive 2025 web-tool can accurately identify individualised SUDI protection needs and gather a team of community providers to support and enable parents and whanau to prevent SUDI for their baby.

Dr Christine McIntosh and her University of Auckland research team have developed the Safe Sleep Calculator which assess SUDI risk for individual infants and recommends changes that will reduce risk. They have demonstrated that 80% of SUDI deaths occur in the 21% of babies who have a higher risk score.

In collaboration with the CMH SUDI prevention programme, Dr McIntosh has integrated the Safe Sleep Calculator into a tool called Survive and Thrive 2025. This tool is unique internationally because it can accurately identify individualised SUDI protection needs and enable the virtual gathering of a virtual care team of community providers to support families with infants at higher risk infants. It is intentionally designed to reduce inequities in SUDI mortality by focusing resources on those who need them most.

Cure Kids are helping Christine and her team

Cure Kids funding will allow the success of the new model of care to be evaluated. Dr McIntosh and her team will use non identifiable health information that’s routinely collected during pregnancy and early infancy for babies born in South Auckland to measure health and behaviour outcomes before, during and after implementing Survive and Thrive 2025.