SUDI, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is every parent’s worst nightmare.
Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy accounts for around 3 deaths in every 10, 000 births in Australia.
Any new mother will attest to the anxiety that the thought of SIDS/SUDI brings with it, the sleepless nights spent wondering if your newborn is going to make it through the night, checking on them frequently during naps, just to make sure they are still breathing.
SUDI and SIDS in Australia
In Australia, approximately 130 babies die each year of SUDI (including, SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents) which is a huge improvement compared to the 500 babies that died in 1990. This steep decline in numbers is due to an increased awareness of risk factors in parents as a result of education provided through programs such as Red Nose Safe Sleeping. There are various risk factors that make babies more vulnerable to SUDI/SIDS, these include:
- Being exposed to drugs or tobacco in the womb
- Being exposed to tobacco smoke after birth either second-hand or third-hand.
- Small birth weight
- Born prematurely
- Aged between two to four months
- Risk factors associated with sleep environment, sleeping near tobacco smoke, overheating, loose bedding or stuffed toys etc.
Minimising the Risk
There are a number of things that parents can do to minimise the risk of SIDS/SUDI these include:
Reducing Tobacco and Drug Associated Risks
- Avoiding smoking and drug use during pregnancy.
- Keeping babies away from second-hand tobacco smoke.
- Avoiding third-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke contains 250 chemicals and can stick to furniture, car interiors, carpet and toys, things that babies are in constant contact with. To avoid third-hand smoke, do not allow people to smoke in or near your home or in your car.
Create a Safe Sleep Environment
- Dress your baby in the same number of layers that make you feel comfortable in that particular temperature.
- Place your baby down on their back to sleep.
- Use a safe sleeping bag instead of blankets, one with a fitted neck and no hood.
- Ensure that your baby’s head is not covered with a beanie, hat or hood while they sleep.
- Put your baby in their bed while they sleep, not on a sofa or soft surface.
- Do not have pillows or soft toys in the cot while your baby sleeps.
- Avoid the use of cot bumpers, sleep positioning aids, sheepskin rugs and woollen underlays.
Your local state Parent Helpline or Parentline
The Department of Child Health have a parenting helplines in each state. The Parentline initiative is a collaboration between Boystown and KidsHelpline and offers free support for parents and others caring for children. The focus is on the family and nurturing relationships between them.
Parentline QLD & NT Phone: 1300 30 1300 (cost of a local call) 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.
Parentline VIC Phone: 13 22 89 (cost of a local call) 8am to Midnight, 7 days a week.
Parent Helpline SA Phone: 1300 364 100 (cost of a local call) 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Parentline NSW Phone: 1300 1300 52 (cost of a local call) 9am to 9pm Monday – Friday 4pm to 9pm Saturday and Sunday
Parenting WA Phone: (08) 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 (free for STD callers) 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week
Parentline ACT Phone: (02) 6287 3833 (cost of a local call)
Parent Line TAS Phone: 1300 808 178 (cost of a local call)
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline Phone: 1800 882 436
This is a free service, available by phone or online, that provides free confidential counselling to women and their families about all things about this time of life – from conception through pregnancy and birth and into the postnatal period.
PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association) Phone: 1300 726 306
You do not need to have a diagnosis to call PANDA –Partners, families and friends can call and be offered support from counsellors, many who have suffered depression as well.
SANDS (Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support) Phone: 1300 072 637
Phone calls to SANDS are answered by parent supporters – other people who have experienced the loss of a baby and have been trained to support other bereaved parents.