Tuesday, 28 December 2010

SIDS: Action urged on cot deaths

DAVID KILLICK   |   December 17, 2010
A CORONER has lashed the Health Department for failing to act on her recommendations which she says would cut the number of cot deaths in the state.
Coroner Olivia McTaggart says she is still waiting for a response and for action on recommendations she made two years ago.
In the meantime 15 babies had died in unexplained circumstances. Many of the deaths may have been preventable, she said.
In coronial findings released yesterday, Ms McTaggart found a three-month-old baby boy died after being placed on his right side in his cot on April 16 last year.
She found his death was because of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Ms McTaggart said she had made detailed recommendations after inquests into the deaths of four infants two years ago, including for the appointment of a full-time SIDS educator, but had not received a response despite repeated requests.
"Since the beginning of 2008 alone, 15 Tasmanian infants under the age of 12 months have died suddenly," she said.
"It appears that in a high proportion of this number preventable risk factors have been present.
"Such factors include co-sleeping with an adult, incorrect infant sleeping position and bedding and parental drug or alcohol sedation.
"I again urge that the Department of Health and Human Services consider implementing as a matter of priority a strategy to reduce the incidence of sudden infant death."
The department's director of children's services, Mark Byrne, said the department would consider the recommendations.
"The importance of safe sleeping is discussed by maternity unit staff and child health nurses with all new parents," he said.
"The blue book [personal health record] given to all parents requires nurses to discuss safe sleeping including the risks associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at least four times with parents in the first four months of a baby's life."
The advice was based on guidelines accepted nationally.
He said the department was developing a DVD to help nurses and other health professionals reinforce the safe sleeping message.
1. Put babies on their backs to sleep. Do not sleep babies on their tummies or sides.
2. Parents should not smoke before or after the birth of a baby.
3. Sleep babies with faces uncovered. Use a light blanket tucked in securely or a safe infant sleeping bag. Do not put a hat on a baby to sleep.
4. Have a safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding and safe sleeping environment for a baby day and night. Keep quilts, doonas, duvets, pillows and cot bumpers and fluffy toys out of the cot.
5. Do not sleep with the baby.
6. It is preferable to sleep babies in their own cots next to the parents' bed for the first six to 12 months.

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