Sudden infant death syndrome in an urban Aboriginal community

Authors

  • Jennifer Knight,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of NSW, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Jennifer Knight, Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation, LMB 7103, Liverpool, 1871, NSW, Australia. Fax: +61 2 8738 9350; email: knightj@unsw.edu.au

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Vana Webster,

    1. Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of NSW, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Lynn Kemp,

    1. Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of NSW, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Elizabeth Comino

    1. Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of NSW, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Funding to support the research was received from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
  • Conflicts of interest: There are no financial and personal relationships with organisations or people that could in appropriately influence our work. No conflicts of interest exist.
  • The Gudaga research team comprises: Assoc/Prof Elizabeth Comino, Dr Pippa Craig, Dr Elizabeth Harris, Prof Mark Harris, Prof Richard Henry, Assoc/Prof Dennis McDermott (Chief Investigators); Alison Derrett, Prof Lisa Jackson Pulver, Dr Bin Jalaludin, Brendon Kelaher, Dr Jenny McDonald, Sharon Nicholson, Darryl Wright (Associate Investigators); Dr Jennifer Knight (Project Manager), Vana Webster (Research Associate) and Cheryl Jane Anderson (Project Officer).

Abstract

Aim

The study aims to understand sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk and preventive practices in an urban Aboriginal community, through exploration of mothers' knowledge and practices and examination of coroner case records.

Methods

Data were collected from the mothers of Aboriginal infants participating in the Gudaga Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study. At 2–3 weeks post-natal, mothers were asked about SIDS risk-reduction practices, infant sleeping position and smoking practices within the home. Questions were repeated when study infants were 6 months of age. During the first 18 months of the study, three infants within the cohort died. All deaths were identified as SIDS related. The Coroner reports for these infants were reviewed.

Results

At the 2–3 weeks data collection point, approximately 66.2% (n = 98) of mothers correctly identified two or more SIDS risk-reduction strategies. At this same data point, approximately 82% (n = 122) of mothers were putting their infants to sleep on their backs (supine). Higher maternal education was significantly associated (P < 0.01), with identification of two or more correct SIDS risk-reduction strategies and supine sleeping position at 2–3 weeks. The Coroner considered two infants who had been sleeping in an unsafe sleeping environment.

Conclusion

Rates of SIDS deaths within the study community were much higher than the national average. Most mothers were putting their infant to sleep correctly even though they may be unaware that their practice was in accordance with recommended guidelines. Best practice safe sleeping environments are difficult to achieve for some families living in low socio-economic settings.

Ancillary