Sudden unexpected infant death in Auckland: a retrospective case review


E A Mitchell, Department of Paediatrics, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. Tel: +649-923-6431 |
Fax: +649-373-7486|


Aim:  To review autopsy reports of all SUDI deaths in the Auckland region, New Zealand, from October 2000 to December 2009.

Methods:  Information on all SUDI cases from 2000 to 2009 was extracted from autopsy and police reports from the National Forensic Pathology Service at Auckland Hospital.

Results:  Of the 332 post-mortems in this period, 221 were classified as SUDI. Of these, 83% were Māori or Pacific infants. The median age at death was 11 weeks and 11% occurred in 7- to 28-day-olds. At the time of death, 64% overall were bedsharing; this was more common in 7–28 day olds (92%). Bedsharing infants were significantly younger at death than non-bedsharing infants (p = 0.008). Where sleep position was known, 57% were placed in non-supine at the last sleep. There was no evidence of diagnostic shift and the prevalence of bedsharing did not change over the decade.

Conclusions:  Bedsharing was associated with a high proportion of SUDI cases, especially in the youngest infants, and non-supine sleep positions were common. There is a need to enhance SUDI prevention messages and consider innovative ways of promoting safe sleeping environment and supine sleep position in Māori and Pacific communities.